Lois Pope Charity Blog

Tips on Selecting a Charity to Support

Numerous studies have shown that the majority of Americans contribute generously to charitable organizations, with 88 percent of households supporting philanthropic efforts and giving $298.3 billion in 2010 alone. In order to ensure that charitable dollars are used effectively, experts recommend carefully considering nonprofit organizations' practices. By following a few tips, supporters of charities can rest easy knowing that their contributions are being used to make the world a better place.

First, avoid giving money immediately in response to a call to donate. Charity Navigator advises that charitable donors use caution when they are considering making donations to those charities that make cold calls or send unsolicited requests. Begin with some research into organizations in need of funds. The best charities will have easily available contact information, and a good first step is to inquire about the organization's long- and short-term goals. The charities should provide ample information about how they use donated funds, but the number that is most important to supporters is how much of it goes directly to charity. Most philanthropy experts recommend only supporting organizations that use at least 60 percent of donations for charity itself, although newer efforts may need start-up funds.

A simple Internet search will bring up major stories that involve charities. However, people who are interested in ensuring their money goes to only the most appropriate organizations will want to seek out specific search engines for philanthropic institutions. The American Institute of Philanthropy, Charity Navigator, and other service providers offer independent reviews of major charities throughout the United States, ensuring that philanthropists are able to target their efforts with donations to effective organizations. Furthermore, most of these services will provide information on the most effective charity for a given cause, allowing for highly targeted donations to the nonprofits that make the biggest impact.