Making your year-end charitable giving count

Making your year-end charitable giving count

If you are like me, your mailbox and email (and even voicemail) are full of requests for year-end contributions. How do you decide if a cause is worth your hard-earned money?


I have seen the inside workings of many non-profit organizations, and my advice is to give with your head as well as your heart. Here are some things to consider:

  • Find organizations that support the causes that are important to you. This is following your heart.
  • Learn about the organization to make sure it is effective, fiscally responsible, and ethical. This is using your head. The internet offers a lot of information about charities, but not all of it is reliable. I recommend:
  • Charity Navigator for national organizations
  • Charities Review Council for local groups*
  • Remember that every organization needs to spend money on general operating and overhead costs.
  • Can you make an impact gift? Decide if you want to make small contributions to several organizations, or make a larger donation to one. There is no right answer to this decision; it is up to you.
  • Be thoughtful, not spontaneous. Instead of giving to a telemarketer promoting some organization that “sounds” good, give directly to the charities of your choice. (But you can still put some change in the bell-ringer’s bucket.)

Martin Luther King Jr.

Life’s persistent and most urgent question is ‘What are you doing for others?’

*Smaller and newer organizations may not be listed. HAFA, the Hmong American Farmers Association, is a good example, according to Sue Bloom, North Star NP Customer Service Representative. “They have been our customer for a little less than a year, and I am so impressed with the passion of their Director, Pakou Hang,” Bloom said. “Sometimes you are lucky enough to get to know an organization personally. Usually you can still find out about their goals and finances on their website.”

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