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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Which Charities Do You Give To, and Why?

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Here’s something we haven’t talked about in a thousand years — which charities do you give to, and why? How do you research and determine which charities are good or best when choosing between options? Do you have pet causes, are you more of a generalist, or do you just give to whatever your friends are fundraising for? Do you have a set amount that you give away every year?

Psst: We’ve previously talked about how to help charities by donating time, how to get on a board, charitable giving for young professionals, and how to deal with pressure to donate money at the office.

For my $.02, we could be a lot more charitable than we are — we do not have a set percentage of our income that we set aside for charity, for example, and we don’t have a specific dollar amount “target.” I almost always donate something if there’s an organization I’ve given to before and there’s a match of some sort, and I try to regularly donate to friends’ causes that are near and dear to them.

house ad showing reader's most-bought items for last month (Jan. 2021)

In terms of how to find a good charity, I tend to like Charity Navigator for research because it’s so easy. Charity Navigator looks at organizations’ financial health, accountability, and transparency, and assign each one a numerical score and star rating. If their ranking is too low for any particular charity, I know to look closer or donate elsewhere.

In addition to being able to easily keep track of what charities you’ve given to, another HUGE benefit of Charity Navigator, for me at least, is that you can give anonymously. I’m one of those people who is actively annoyed if I get a zillion emails, calls, and mailings from charities (don’t send me a free book! put the damn money towards the charity!), and being anonymous sidesteps that.

I’m also a big fan of the Donors Choose website — you can directly help teachers who need things for their classrooms, and you can search by locale or by “issue,” such as sensory-friendly lighting.

Finally, yes, in other years I’ve gone to fundraisers — it’s a fun night with friends, and I’ve made some questionable auction purchases because they’re “for charity.”

Readers, how about you — which charities do you give to and why? What are your best tips on how to find a good charity?

Stock photo via Deposit Photos / rozelt.

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