‘Tis the season to be making end-of-year donations. We are so fortunate to be in stable financial position this year, that giving to others has become more important to us in 2020 than ever before.
But, how do you decide where to donate?
I have a couple of priorities:
- The cause needs to be important to my family and me.
- I want to know our money will be used wisely. Traditionally, I’ve been told to look at how much money is being spent on operating costs to cover costs like staff office space and advertising. However, in researching the best charities for our causes of choice, there’s more to it than just picking an organization with a low expense ratio. I want a well-run charity that is going to do the most good and invest in supporting their mission, which may mean spending money on more staff or training the employees they already have. Sites like Charity Navigator and Charity Watch are a good place to learn more about non-profits you are interested in donating to this year.
- Preferably, I want our donation to support those in our community, like local homeless shelters or our nearby humane society. Exceptions come up when disasters strike throughout the globe and we support relief efforts.
We also take time to talk as a family, often at the dinner table, about the importance of donating what we have to others. Sometimes that’s our time, like when the Cub Scouts place wreathes on veterans’ graves or we help with the swim team car wash. Sometimes — particularly during the pandemic when time feels more limited than before and there are less opportunities to join events — we donate money to causes important to us.
I remember having this conversation at dinner one time with Mr. 7 year old, who was then 4 or 5. We were talking about how much we wanted to donate to the local humane society and explained to the boys how such an organization works. I noted how we give money so that pets likes cats and dogs can have food and shelter until they find a forever home. Our little guy tilted his head at us and asked, “Why? Dogs can’t use money.”
Ha! Kids are great.