First of all congrats on all that money! I gotta say I’m jealous. But let’s be honest, you don’t deserve that! I just gave it to you! You should at least donate a little bit. Let’s say $100. To cancer research you say? Great plan.
I don’t know about you, but I can’t go a single day without this charity or that nonprofit asking for my hard earned money.
Actually – scratch that –
I DO know that you can relate because I’ve asked for your hard earned money on more than one occasion!
It’s not that I am complaining. I’m glad that there are a myriad of choices for us to donate to, and for every topic imaginable! Who knows where we would be without such organizations like the American Cancer Research Center or the Breast Cancer Research Foundation!?
Wait… Scratch that too.
It’s actually very easy to know what kind of world these charities are working to create. And even easier to know which ones are worth their salt and which are, well… not.
And for someone with a good heart and a couple extra bucks left over at the end of the month, this information could be the difference between you helping to discovering the cure for cancer and you paying for another strawberry daiquiri on a CEO’s vacation.
Okay so maybe I exaggerated a bit, but this is serious!
There are a ton of factors that go into effectively managing a nonprofit organization, and doing it correctly proves to be a serious challenge for many inexperienced or negligent philanthropists. Luckily for us, there are a great many organizations that do it well.
So what kinds of things should you look for when donating? Excellent question! I’ll tell you.
Overhead refers to the cost of maintaining your business. Things like rent, wages, and electricity would all fall under the overhead category.
When donating it is important to research the percentage of funds that are directed to overhead. Remember that having zero overhead is almost impossible, but a lower percentage is better than a higher one. Also keep in mind that larger nonprofits will most likely have a larger overhead cost because of the nature of bureaucratic organizations.
Fundraising vs Programs
Another key topic to research is in regards to how much or what percentage of funds are going to fundraising and which are going to programming. Yes they both sound pretty awesome, but semantics aside, programming is where it’s at. According to the Better Business Bureau, a minimum of 65% of funds should be going to programming.
Programming generally refers to the actual meat and potatoes of a non profit. Programming cost goes towards things like AIDS clinics, blankets for the homeless, and cancer research.
Fundraising is another way of saying “we are spending your money in the name of raising more money” which might sound like an okay thing, but it should never be larger than the programming cost.
Possibly the most important and all-encompassing factor of the lot, transparency refers to the overall openness of an organization’s goings-on. I should be able to know exactly how much they made last year, what their CEO’s salary is, and have access to expense breakdowns.
Transparency is the ultimate example of consumer oversight and sovereignty. You and I are the ones who decide what we find attractive in the organizations we contribute to. And I urge you to reward those who are open about their operations and ignore those who see fit to keep the information hidden.
Alright so now that we are wiser, let’s look back at our choices for our $100 cancer donation. Below I have links to the Better Business Bureau reports for our two options. Feel free to check them out and decide who you would rather donate to.
While both organizations could easily hit you with similar advertising techniques and make identical claims about their mission statements, one deserves that $100 I gave you and the other doesn’t.
Caring, volunteering, and donating are all extremely honorable, and deserving of admiration, but if consumers are not careful with their cash, they may miss opportunities to make the difference they wish to see in the world.
Remember responsible giving!