How do you go about choosing what charities or non-profits to support? At the very least, you should choose a charity that deals with issues you’re concerned about–people worried about the environment should choose green charities, people more concerned with women’s issues should choose charities that focus on women’s rights, and so on.
It’s possible, and likely a good idea, to put a little more thought into the charities you support, though. Just because an organization is concerned with the same issues as you, doesn’t mean that they will necessarily use your money (or your time) in ways that you completely agree with.
Do some research and find out how a given organization thinks and what they do with their funds. Dan Pallotta has raised over $108 million for HIV/AIDS research, and another $194 million for breast cancer research, so it’s a safe bet that he knows a thing or two about charities. Pallotta suggests that you do some research to find a charity that you want to support, and then commit to supporting them for an extended period of time, even if you can only give a little here and there.
He suggests starting with an Internet search, then reading up on promising searches. Don’t stop there, though. Give prospective charities a call, or see if you can arrange a tour or set up a meeting. Well-organized nonprofits will have people dedicated to building relationships with donors, and it’s their job to talk to people who want to help out.
Pallotta also suggests not worrying about the overhead of a group you’re considering supporting. He notes that Americans tend to gauge charities by how much of their donation goes to the target, the people in need, for example, and how much goes to running the charity. Low overhead is seen as better, but it’s not. A nonprofit with a larger overhead might be doing much more good in the long run, as they tend to be better organized and further reaching.