Kevan Casey Foundation

Charities are easy to come by, and they come in all shapes, sizes and causes.  From small bake sales for a local church group to large and established organizations like the Red Cross, finding a charity is not an issue.  However, finding the right charity can be hard.  Grantspace states that, “According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), more than 1.5 million non-profit organizations are registered in the U.S. This number includes public charities, private foundations, and other types of non-profit organizations, including chambers of commerce, fraternal organizations and civic leagues.”  With so many charities in so many forms existing, it can be overwhelming trying to find the right one to donate time, money, or material supplies to.  Below are three tips for finding the charity that is right for you.

Charity Search Engine

Just like there is Google for general internet searches, there are search engines to help you find charities.  If you do not know where to start and just want to see what is out there, this is a great place to start. Sites like Charity Navigator allow you to search in a number of different ways.  You can use causes, keywords, categories, and state or zip code to search for a charity. You can even narrow your search to the type of work the charity does and its size.  Using a search like this can help you hone in on a charity that you may find worth giving to.

Make It Personal

Many people choose to give to a certain charity because they have a personal connection to the cause the charity supports.  Veterans and their families for example, are more likely to want to give to a charity that supports veterans.  Those who have or have loved ones who survived cancer may choose to donate to a specific cancer cause.  Yet, others may decide to donate to pet organizations that help stray animals because they have a rescued animal.  Find that personal thing that you connect with and find a charity that supports the cause to give to.

Learn About the Charity

Just because a charity exists does not mean it is reputable.  Therefore, if you are choosing to donate to a local or unknown charity, do your homework.  Visit their website and the Better Business bureau.  Call and see what projects they have done.  Stop in to see the space they work out of.  Ensure that your donation will go to the cause you want it to go to and not get deferred to mainly administrative costs.

Finding the right charity takes work.  By using specialized search engines, making it personal, and learning about the charity, you can help ensure that your donation of time, money, or goods will go to the best use possible.

Deciding How Much Money to Donate 

According to Giving USA, Americans gave an estimated $358.38 billion to charity in 2014.  That is a lot of money helping a lot of great causes. Even more, 72 percent of the total given came from individuals like yourself.  Donations ran the spectrum of charities, including religion, education, health, human services, arts, culture, environment, foundations, animals, and international affairs.  With so much donated to so many causes, one must wonder about the average amount given.  According to Financial Samurai, the average amount donated, as aggregated from several of the largest charitable foundations, was 3 to 5 percent of a person’s gross salary.  This sounds like a large number, but, in reality, it is not.  A person making $40,000 a year would have given $1,200 according to this statistic.  However, any amount donated above zero percent is helpful to any charity.  So how do you decide how much to give?

Ask the Charity 

Each charity has its own fundraising goals.  Public radio that relies on donations needs less than a charity like the Red Cross.  The best thing to do is to ask the charity what their fundraising goals are, how much they need, or what they are aiming to use funds for.  You can then decide how much to give based on that.

Budget Giving In 

Many people tide a certain amount annually based on their budget. The number varies based on household income versus expenses and savings goals.  Some families aim to give 10% away each year while others aim for $5 per month.  This is a number only you can decide on.  But if you want to ensure it happens, set up an automatic recurring payment to the charity of your choice.

Give With Others

As we have seen in the era of ride-sharing and crowdfunding, you do not have to do everything alone.  Sometimes it is easier to give with a group.  This defrays costs and allows the group to give more than you can alone.  You can search on crowdfunding sites like Go Fund Me for a cause to donate a small amount to along with others or you could organize something with your friends or family.  Giving with others is a great way to give more with less.

Figuring out how much to give to charity does not have to be difficult.  By asking the charity, budgeting what you can give, and giving through social giving, you can give the right amount you can comfortably afford and still make a difference, which is what it is all about.   

Ways To Support Charities Without Giving Money

When people think about giving, they often think about giving money. This makes sense because we are constantly flooded with images or ads asking for money for different natural disasters.  Plus, these days it is so easy to give money just by going online or sending a text message. But, many people simply cannot afford to donate money.  And that is okay because sometimes there are other and better ways to support charities or even a cause without cash.  Nothing demonstrates that more than the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

The challenge had four simple rules. Make a video of you pouring an ice bucket of water on your head.  Upload it to YouTube and challenge three friends to do the same. The fourth rule was to donate to the cause, which was optional.  This challenge not only raised awareness for the cause, but it raised a ton of funds.  According to the ALS Association, “More than 17 million people uploaded their challenge videos to Facebook; these videos were watched by 440 million people a total of 10 billion times. It is now an annual event to raise awareness and funds to find treatments and a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)”.  Just the simple act of doing something out of the ordinary helped bring large amounts of attention to a cause. And there are other ways you can give to a charity without using money.  Here are three ideas we like.

Donate Time 

Many charities rely on support from people willing to volunteer their time.  This is because many charities do not have the funds or staff to handle all the needed tasks.  Nothing illustrated this more than animal shelters that rely on volunteers to walk the dogs, clean the animals, feed them, and do other important task to help the shelter run.  You do not have to give all of your time.  An hour here or there is much appreciated by any charity.  Something is better than nothing. 

Donate Items

Goodwill can give because of the generous donations of items from people.  The power of giving some old clothes, used books, or other material a charity may need can go a long way in helping them out.  Many charities cannot afford to purchase needed items such as computers.  To see the power of giving items, look no further than coat and canned food drives to help the homeless that happen regularly at schools, places of worship, and community centers.  Every little bit counts.

Spread the Word

Some charities do not have a large or any marketing budget.  They rely on the help of others to spread the word.  This can be in the form of creating and handing out flyers.  Perhaps you help them with social media marketing or creating a website or crowdfunding campaign.  Or perhaps you just talk to people about the charity.  This has worked great for organizations just getting started or that are small.  Many groups that help addicts started with one or two volunteers making calls and talking to people face to face.

Giving to a charity does not have to be solely based on money.  It can involve something as simple as participating in a challenge, or you can donate your time, unused or used items, or help spread the word about the charity.  The bottom line is to be creative and any little bit you can do helps in a big way.