Tips on how to choose a charity

Most of us want to give back, do good, pay it forward. The words of Anne Frank is still so strikingly true:

“No one has ever become poor by giving.”

But in a world of a million+ charities, how do you choose a beneficiary? Where do you start? What do you look out for? Which boxes need to be ticked?

Often we have the motivation to give, however, it can be an overwhelming task figuring out where to put your money and which organisation to support. Sometimes it can even result in not giving at all. In an interesting TED talk by Dan Pallotta, he states that the things we’ve been taught about giving, charity, and the non-profit sector are actually undermining the causes we love, as well as our desire to make the world a better place.

If we are to create, in the words of Buckminster Fuller, a world that works for everyone – with no one left behind, then the non-profit sector has to be a serious part of the conversation, he says. He says that this idea that “the overhead of an organisation is an enemy of the cause”, which then forces organisations to go without the things they need in order to grow (in the interest of keeping the overhead low), is wrong. The ‘best’ charities have somehow become the charities with the lowest overheads because it means “more money for the cause”. In reality, this thinking undermines charities and may just be the reason they are struggling to really make an impact.

So, back to the question of how to choose your charity. Here is a list of basic things to look out for when choosing a beneficiary:

Clarify your own values

Why do you want to give? Is it because there is a burden on your heart to help make the world a better place? Is it because you feel guilty? Is it for tax benefits? It’s important to find a charity that is in line with your own values and moral beliefs.

Identify the things you feel passionate about

Passion is powerful. If you can identify causes, countries, people groups, situations, or topics you feel really passionate about, it will make the process of choosing a beneficiary that much easier.

Start with a broad search, then narrow it down

Make use of websites that list various non-profits and charitable organisations. Use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to get input from your network on which charities they know or support. Once you’ve selected roughly three or four, contact the organisations directly and ask if you can meet up with them. Most charities have dedicated people to meet and build relationships with donors / potential donors.

As Pallotta says: “If you are going to make a long-term commitment to an organisation, even if the money isn’t huge, you owe it to yourself to do this kind of research in the same way you would go to a dealership to test-drive a car.”

Transparency is key

Ask if you can have a look at their annual reports. Find out how transparent the organisation is about their finances – how they manage it, and where they spend it, and how they decide where to spend it. Once again, don’t fall in the mindset of ‘keeping the overhead low’. All you need to know is that they’re transparent and accountable about where they use their funds.

How big are their dreams?

Ask about the scale of their dreams – their really big dreams. Does it inspire you? Do they seem to be bold and brave when it comes to dreaming big and changing the world? Also ask them how they measure their progress toward those dreams, and what resources they need to make them come true – regardless of what the overhead is.

The next time you’re deciding on where to invest funds for goodwill, don’t make the mistake of only focussing on the overhead. Does it really matter what the overhead is if it means our overwhelming social problems are getting solved?

About WeBenefit

WeBenefit was created with the sole purpose of DOING GOOD by helping care based institutions save money through procurement and raising funds in their communities.

By procuring through the WeBenefit platform, businesses can now reduce their own operational costs and do good at the same time through supporting a beneficiary of their choice.

WeBenefit aims to get the community involved with and contributing financially to local charities so that, together, we can all make a difference. One example of how we do this is by allowing individuals to procure their everyday products and services – from home appliances, stationery, airtime, electricity and more – quickly and easily from our secure online store.

We then take a percentage of every contribution you make and donate it to a charity of your choice (at no additional cost to you).
For more, go to www.webenefit.co.za