my first job out of college was a happy accident. i was working for a marketing firm that specialized in direct mail and telefundraising for cultural non-profits. i had the pleasure to work with wonderful institutions like the high museum of art, philadelphia museum of art, boston symphony orchestra, houston zoo, and the phillips collection to name few. not only was it cool preparing direct mail for events like the dali exhibit, but it was fulfilling be a part of a group committed to helping these non-profits raise money. even at my second job, i worked with the likes of animal rescues and organizations helping children.
this work gave me an appreciation for all the incredibly good things being done in the world. it also made me sensitive to the financial situations many non-profits face. if they are lucky, they will get some kind of federal or state assistance/grants. but generally, they rely on the contributions of donors.
but it also made me realize that not all organizations are created equal. it’s extremely important to know where your money is going and here are a few things i do before donating:
- what cause you give to should be important to you. this might seem common sense for you but it’s equally important to the organization you donate to. fundraising is a 365 day/year activity for these non-profits. they will ask you to get more involved, either by donating more, filling out surveys, being an advocate on social media, and more. so the more you care about the cause, the more engaged you’ll be.
- do an online search, see if the non-profit has been in recent news; good or bad. visit their website too. learn more about their mission and programs.
- visit charity navigator. a non-profit in their own right, they are “your guide to intelligent giving.” they rate charities from 1 to 4 stars based on a number factors. they get scores for financial and accountability and transparency. you can see how much money goes to actual programs, administrative and fundraising expenses, etc. i’ve used it to research organizations i contemplated donating to, but i’ve also used their robust search feature to find organizations.
both my parents cooked warm, nutritious meals despite having several jobs at once. i grew up knowing and having tried many fruits and vegetables. and there was never a situation where i went hungry. this is not the case for many people in this world. and i’m not just talking about third-world countries, it’s happening in our own backyard. i was watching a show on food network where they were helping to renovate a food kitchen which primarily supplied food to children. these were middle school aged children, many of whom had never had basic vegetables like broccoli. some may not even get three meals on their own.
most of us have a little something we can give. whether it’s our time, expertise, or money. just do whatever you can and know that truly every little bit helps. 5 down, 47 to go.