It can be difficult to decide which charities deserve your hard-earned dollars. You want to ensure that as much of your donation as possible goes towards the cause you are supporting. You also want to know that you are supporting worthwhile charities that align with your values. Here are some tips to ensure that you’re are making the best decision when it comes to charitable giving.
1. Carefully choose which cause you want to support. There are over 75,000 registered charities in Canada, and they all want your donation. You have to be discerning. Start by asking yourself a few questions.
a. Do you want to give locally, nationally or internationally? You might want to support a cause close to home, give to a relief organization supporting a natural disaster in another part of the country, or donate to causes in developing countries. There is no right or wrong answer here, but it’s worth giving some thought to it.
b. How familiar are you with the charity? Perhaps you have volunteered with them? Have your family or friends been on the receiving end of their programs and services?
c. Do you prefer to be a regular donor whose donation is taken directly from your bank account each month, or do you want to leave your options open and give to causes as they arise, such as a friend participating in a fundraising walk?
d. Does the charity and its leadership align with your values?
2. Decide on your charitable giving budget ahead of time. It’s easy to be overly generous if you haven’t thought ahead of time about what you can afford. However, if you and your family decide on a set amount, perhaps at the start of the year, then you can comfortably say yes or no depending on what’s left in the budget.
3. Don’t feel pressured into making quick decisions. If a canvasser shows up at your door, ask for a pamphlet, or their website. If you receive a call from a telemarketer, simply say no, or let them know that they are welcome to mail you something but that you don’t make financial decisions over the phone. Legitimate charities will respect these answers.
4. Check out the charity’s financial statements. These should be readily available on their website. You can also look them up through a charity watchdog, such as Charity Intelligence Canada, which will do the digging for you and rate the charity based on criteria such as financial transparency, cost efficiency and impact.
5. Make sure to hang onto those receipts. All donations made to registered charities in a calendar year are eligible for a tax credit, as well as unclaimed donations you made in the previous 5 years.
There are many wonderful charities in Canada that are doing amazing work at home and abroad. By taking the time to thoughtfully discern whether and how to support them, you can ensure that your dollars have the impact you are hoping for.