Smart Cause

How to donate wisely

Giving to charitable organizations is great, as long as the money is going to the right places. That concern — that funds given actually make it to those in need — is making headlines this week, as a GoFundMe campaign for a homeless man went awry. The short version of the sad story: A couple set up a fundraiser for a homeless man after he was kind to them. The campaign exceed its goal, but the couple is allegedly spending the money while the homeless man has yet to see a penny. It’s a tragic tale and also a reminder that you need to donate wisely. Here are some ways to do just that.

Know What You Want. One key to feeling like you’ve donating wisely is to be as specific as possible. You want to help animals? You want to stop heart disease? Well, how, exactly? Be as detailed about your cause as you can, that way you’ll feel like the money you’re donating is going to the exact cause you care about.

Do The Research. Use sites like GuideStar and Charity Navigator to research the charities you’re considering. Those sites vet a variety of organizations and rate them according to a set of criteria. If the charity you like isn’t listed, ask the charity why that is. A reputable organization will be transparent with you, so don’t be afraid to make as many inquiries as you want.

Avoid Pressure Situations. One red flag to watch out for when choosing a charity? Pressure. You’ll want to avoid any organization that pressures you into donations. If a charity won’t take “no” for an answer, you’d be wise to move on.

Go With Your Gut. If you’ve completed your research on a charity and something still doesn’t feel right, get out now. There’s no reason to donate to an organization that doesn’t pass the “gut” test. There are too many other charities out there worthy of your donations to linger on one that doesn’t feel quite right.

Chris O'Shea

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