7 Points to Consider Before Donating to a Non-Profit
by Daniel Dubay
There are thousands of non-profit organizations that are actively fundraising.You might be getting phone calls, emails and direct mailers from various organizations looking for support.But you can’t afford to donate to all of them. Which should you choose?

​It can be overwhelming to even evaluate which one to support. Virtually any cause you can think of will probably have one or more organizations raising funds to support it. Here are seven points to consider before donating to a non-profit:

1.  Select your overall cause.  Whether it’s environmental, medical, social or political, narrow down the field so you can focus in that area.  How do you decide?  Choose something that resonates with you.  Choose something that creates passion for you. Do it with a grateful heart.
2.  Create the short list.  Once one defines which cause to support, create a short list of potential non-profits that relate to the cause.  Are you familiar with any of them?  Are any of them local?
3.  Research each of the non-profits.  Check out their websites.  The first item to consider is reviewing the Mission Statement.  Many non-profits have the best of intentions, but have a vague mission statement.  A mission statement should clearly define the goals of the organization in clear and concise sentences.  A clear statement will identify major objectives and scope of services.
4.   Know where the funds go.  What do the fundraising efforts support?  Is it clearly stated how the funds are spent, and are there examples of their services in action?  There should be a clear link between their fundraising efforts and service outcomes.  Does the organization have salaried staff, and what is the percentage of funds dedicated to overhead vs. services provided?  Do their policies satisfy your goals?
5.  Consider the organization’s values.   Are the stated values of the non-profit generally in line with yours?  Values and goals of small vs. large organizations may be important to you.  Sometimes large organizations are difficult to evaluate because of their size and inability to develop a personal connection.  Smaller organizations are generally more accessible and provide a greater chance of being known to the community.
6.  Research community prominence.  Does the organization provide services that meet a vital need in your community?  How does it support a specific group or community?  Do the organization’s services provide fair and equitable resources for current needs and future growth?
7.  Review documented support.  The organization must be able to provide data which defines the need for its services in your community.  If the data supports the need for the organization, the next step is to evaluate how the organization’s funds are being spent to address the needs.  If it can’t do so, then one has to question whether or not it is meeting the needs stated in its Mission Statement, and thus deserving of your support.

If you find a non-profit organization that satisfactorily answers your questions, then by all means, donate!  If any of the answers give you pause, or if any of the important questions aren’t answered, maybe you should give it a second thought.

Note:  The author is a member of the RAP Board of Directors, and he serves as treasurer.