I have worked in the nonprofit sector for nearly 20 years (currently here) and in that time I have seen both glory stories of lives impacted and heartbreak when charities misuse funds. I know this is when many consider a year-end donation to a 501c3 organization.
If you have thought about doing such a thing but didn’t know where to start, use this as a guide to get you started.
3 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Giving to a Charity
*What is a need I feel passionate about?
When you are alone with your thoughts, what social problems come to mind? Maybe homelessness, orphan care, preserving the lives of the unborn… or something else may stir your heart. Consider giving to one of these causes. In addition, is there somewhere (besides obviously your church) where you receive spiritual food? Do you listen to a radio ministry or a podcast? These organizations most often rely on charitable donations.
*Local? National? Global?
Where are you hoping your money will make an impact? Some organizations work primarily overseas. Some large organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse have national and global impact. If you are wanting your money to stay in your own community that will send you in a different direction such as a food pantry, after-school ministry or homeless shelter.
*Physical or Spiritual- or Both?
What types of needs are you hoping to help alleviate? The wonderful thing about many Christian relief organizations is they are designed (and workers are trained) to meet both tangible and spiritual needs.
5 Questions You Should Be Able to Answer About an Organization (Before Giving it Your Money)
*What values/belief system does the organization hold?
Go to any Christian nonprofit’s website and you should see a statement of faith. For a local organization, call and ask if it is affiliated with any parent organization or faith family. Seeing the activities a charity is a part of and which groups it partners with will also give you a feel for the organization’s values.
*To whom is this organization accountable?
Many Christian organizations are accountable to the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability. When such membership is terminated like happened to one relief organization recently, there is reason for concern. ECFA’s website is a great resource to search and find financially transparent organizations to match your charitable interests. As an example, If you look at the bottom of World Vision’s home page you will see a breakdown of how its budget is allocated and the ECFA logo.
*What is the organization’s history?
Has the charity weathered storms or are they brand new? How was it founded? What has it accomplished and how has it grown since its inception?
*Who is in charge?
Is it run by a board? Is a president mentioned? It is worth Googling him or her.
*What other ways (if any) does the organization receive funding?
You may want to know how necessary your gift is. If an organization receives funding from large corporations or receives government funding you may decide to give to an organization with greater need.
Hope you find this helpful and thank you for being glorifying God by being a generous giver! Oh, and don’t forget to give that gift by midnight on Thursday!