4 Questions to Ask Charities Before Donating

Often, individuals sincerely desire change in the world but lack a network, program, or resources to institute that change by themselves. Rather than give up on pursuing a cause, many donate to and volunteer for a charity that specializes in creating expansive and impactful programs.

This donor-charity relationship allows health charities, domestic violence shelters, racial injustice organizations, and many more organizations to succeed in their respective missions for good. If you feel called to give but want to do so with peace of mind about your partnership, here are some helpful questions to ask charities before donating.

Do You Have a Track Record of Service?

First, addressing a charity’s past is a good place to start. Inquire about their founding story, the credentials of leadership, and how their passion fueled their inception. The best charities would like nothing more than a chance to transparently tell you about their beginnings.

More importantly, though, ask about their track record. They should be able to tell you about past campaigns and statistics regarding their impact. An easy way to learn more about their legitimacy is by determining if they’re a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. While this isn’t a golden ticket, this IRS status indicates at least three years of existence coupled with past responsibility with donations.

How Will You Meet Short- and Long-Term Goals?

Next, shift your focus to the present and near future by asking how they plan to meet their short- and long-term goals. If they can give you an answer, this confirms they have a concrete vision for what they want the future to look like.

Also, you learn how actionable their goals are. Vague missions to generally reduce homelessness don’t quite motivate an organization like a goal to reduce a community’s homelessness by a given percentage. If they have actionable goals with specific metrics for success or failure, they may be a good partner for you.

What Will Our Relationship Look Like After I Donate?

And now, looking to the future, you can also inquire about your donor-charity relationship going forward. If you put money into something, you view it as an investment. It’s nice to know a charity will update you regularly on what your investment is accomplishing. That way, you know you won’t be in the dark, and you can get excited about seeing the fruits of your giving.

What Obstacles Do You Currently Face?

Another question to ask a charity before donating, when you decide a charity is legitimate and worth your resources, is how you can best help. Opening up every possible avenue—giving, volunteering, advising, and advocating—helps you do the most you can for them and their cause. By posing this question, you illustrate from the get-go your commitment to the success of the charity and elevate yourself from donor to partner.

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Charity and donations