There are many times in life when we may find ourselves wanting to give back. Many of us want to donate gifts to those in need, give money or volunteer. But what should you give? And who to? Which charities will make the most of your donation? In this article I will share with you tips on what it takes to give with impact so you can be sure you get the most of your giving.
TIP 1: Figure out what you care most about
It’s sounds a bit naff, but giving should always be motivated from the heart. There will always be plenty of charities seeking your donation. Unless you’ve figured out what is important to you, it’s going to be really hard to get the most from giving. Why? The problems that charities are solving are complicated and generally have no quick fixes. By committing yourself to a particular cause:
- you will get to know the problem and solutions more intimately
- you will have the chance to really understand who is working in the space and making a meaningful difference
- you will see how over time things can get better and you will know that you were a contributing factor to that improvement
- finally, and importantly, your motivation for giving will transform from one of guilt to one of making impact.
If you spend the time thinking about what social or environmental problem you care about more than anything else, and focus your giving attention onto only that problem for a good chunk of your life (say, 10 years), I guarantee you will feel more substantially more fulfilled, more confident, and more self-assured about your giving.
TIP 2: Decide what you have to offer
Charities will always benefit from money, but they may also benefit from your time, usable goods, or your networks. Depending on where you are in your life, figure out what makes sense for you to give right now.
Giving money is quick and easy for you. It is also great for the charity as it offers flexibility with how they use your money. There are several ways to give money, including:
- Traditional donations – This is the simple and traditional approach of giving to charity when you write a cheque, make a call or click on the ‘donate now’ button on a charity’s website and enter the amount you want to give.
- Crowdfunding – Crowdfunding is a fundraising approach where charities seek to fund a project by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people. Australia platforms for charities include Chuffed and Pozible.
- Giving circles – Giving circles are newest and most exciting thing in philanthropy right now. They are groups of individuals donate their own money or time to a pooled fund and decide together where to give these away to charity or community. Examples of giving circles in Australia include The Funding Network, Impact100, and 10x10.
Often when we think of volunteering we think of soup kitchens, but more and more charities are seeking a range of both skilled and unskilled volunteers. Volunteering is great for those that have either time or skills to offer. Here are a few websites that help charities recruit volunteers:
Many charities will take new and used good for their own use, to give to their beneficiaries or to sell for revenue. Remember that in all cases, charities are only looking for goods in good condition. To get an idea of what different charities are looking for, check out Give Now Other Ways or if you have bulk unused stuff, Good360.
Charities are always looking to expand their reach and build awareness. It may not feel like much, but publically supporting a charity (even without any fundraising), will help them engage with new networks. If you like hosting parties, running marathons or sharing stories on social media, do it for a particular charity.
There are other things that a charity might need that you might be able to offer. For example, one organisation I was speaking to recently had a need for function venues. Another had a need for cheap freight. Another wanted to know if I could introduce them to a friend of mine that worked in a major corporation. Who knows what you might have that's of value to a charity, which leads me to my next tip...
TIP 3: Reach out to charities you are interested in
In order to know that what you're giving is needed and to understand how it will be used, you need to be able to communicate with the charity. Reach out by email or phone to any charities you are interested in.
- Find out how they interact with donors – communication is essential for you to know you helped create an impact. If you reach out to a charity and don’t hear anything back, then the charity is not for you.
- Make sure that you give only what is needed - not all charities take on volunteers, accept donated goods, need facilities or can undertake fundraising, so find out what they’re after.
If you're having trouble identifying charities to donate to, this tool by ChangePath might help.
TIP 4: Do basic due diligence on the charity you are interested in
Before you give, always undertake some basic due diligence to make sure the charity is trustworthy and impactful. Just as you’d look at the accounts of a company you’re interested in investing in, you should look at the annual statement and impact statement for a charity you want to give to.
A basic due diligence will involve the following steps:
- Check for legal registration with the Australian Charities and Non-for-profits Commission.
- Review the financial statements and look for the auditor’s opinion. This should state in one-way or another that the accounts are legitimate and a true reflection of the charity’s state of affairs.
- Find out a bit more about the board and the executive team that is running the charity. Do they have the appropriate skills and background necessary to run the organisation?
- Review their Annual Report or Impact Statement to look for indicators that they are a high quality charity. High quality charities will have a clear strategy and direction, will have a theoretical basis for their activities, will evaluate their projects, will consult regularly with their beneficiaries, and will work with other organisations in the sector.
The Good Cause Co. specialise in charity due diligence. We will be releasing our basic due diligence of Australia's most recognised charities mid-2018. For more information, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is no doubt that giving with impact takes more time and thought then simply dropping a coin in an appeal cup. However, if you put the time and effort into thinking about giving effectively, you will reap the rewards of fulfilment. Is there better way to feel?