During this time of year, we all need a reminder about the true spirit of the holidays — giving. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the consumerism of the holidays, giving back is a great way to bring some balance into your life, while spreading a little bit of joy to others. With a plethora of worthy nonprofits out there, how do you choose the right one? If you feel inspired to give back this holiday season, use the following tips to help you find an organization and cause that you care about.
While researching charities, here are three questions to ask yourself.
1. Is the charity fiscally and ethically responsible?
Find out how the organization manages their finances. Reputable nonprofits should be transparent with this information and make sure their practices are in line with how you want your dollars to be used.
2. Are they a true nonprofit?
For your contribution to be tax-deductible, make sure the organization is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. The IRS has an online tool you can use to check if an organization is eligible.
3. Do their values align with yours?
Aside from the cause itself, research the organization’s background and beliefs. Be sure to ask not just about what they do but why they do it to ensure your donations are powering the kind of change you’re passionate about.
Once you know your criteria for choosing a nonprofit, it’s time to narrow it down to the specific cause. If you’re not sure where to begin, here are just a few types of charities that you can seek out.
Animal Welfare: Animal shelters, animal cruelty prevention, veterinary science
Arts & Culture: Performing arts, museums, historical societies, historical preservation, art education
Education: Early childhood development programs, underserved youth programs, special education, scholarship funds, education policy and reform
Environment: Clean water, land and wildlife conservation, sustainable energy, disaster relief, agriculture
Global: Human rights groups; international peace and security; social, agricultural, and medical support for developing countries; foreign policy research
Health: Medical research, health education, patient and family advocacy, public awareness for various diseases
Humanitarian: Hunger relief, refugee aid, homeless shelters, programs for abused women and children
Ready to find a charity that supports your favorite cause? CharityNavigator.org is an excellent resource to help you find top charities, search for organizations by category, and discover even more tips about smart giving. And remember — giving back doesn’t always have to come in the form of money. The gift of your time is often what’s needed most to make a difference.
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