How to Choose a Charity
With Giving Tuesday coming up on November 27th and the holiday season just around the corner, many parents are starting to think of ways to get the kids involved in giving back. Needless to say, different ages make it possible to get involved in different ways.
From making a monetary donation to getting involved in your local turkey drive, there are countless ways to introduce giving into your family traditions. Here are a few steps you can take to figure out which charity is best for you!
Decide on a cause.
What causes are you passionate about? What is important to you and other members of your family? Grab the kids, sit down together and start a list. Consider issues that fall under the umbrellas of health, education, human rights, emergency response, animal welfare, etc. Choose 3-5 specific causes that everyone would consider supporting. This will help you choose a charity that aligns with the values shared by you and your family.
Decide on the scope.
If you’re looking to make a donation, decide whether you’d like to make an impact on a local or international level. Whereas domestic charities often support issues like homelessness, sexual violence and mental health programs that are of direct benefit the local population, international charities often work to alleviate widespread issues that affect the world’s most vulnerable such as gender-equality or hunger. Whether you’re looking to make a difference at home or abroad, there are plenty of ways to give back.
Do your research.
Now that you’ve discussed the what and the where, it’s time to conquer the who. Come up with the top 3-5 organizations that meet the criteria you selected. If your kids are old enough, have them research organizations that align with causes you’ve identified as a family. Once they’re done their research, have them come back to you with a report on each. This is a great way to get them involved while expanding their knowledge of important issues.
Once you have your short list, it’s time to start looking behind the scenes. Start by reading each organization’s mission statement, then move on to reading about some of the projects each charity has been involved with in the past.
Next, search for a breakdown of expenditures and find out how much is spent on programs vs. overhead costs including marketing, fundraising efforts etc. charityintelligence.ca provides a breakdown of costs for both domestic and international charities. There’s no baseline for best practices as amounts spent on administrative costs can range from 0-50% but as a rule of thumb, if a charity is spending more like 20-30% on overhead costs, you might want to dig a little deeper or call them up to ask specific questions.
And finally? Verify that your donation will be followed by a tax receipt that entitles you to the tax deductions you deserve. After all, good things come to those who give!
Older kids? Roll up your sleeves!
If your kids are old enough to lend a hand and you’re willing to be less selective about how your family gets involved, there are great ways to get hands-on giving experience this holiday season.
Start by searching volunteer databases on your region. A good Canadian resource is the Volunteer Canada website. Search for opportunities to volunteer as a family but remember that you’re not the only ones looking to “up” your giving game around the holidays. If you’re flexible with your time, look into fundraising events, drives and vacancies posted before and after the seasonal rush.
Whether you end up gift-wrapping, food sorting or visiting hospital patients who may be without a family of their own, no matter how you decide to give back, volunteering as a family anytime is a magical way to bring everyone together into the true spirit of the holiday season.