Do you wonder if you’re donating to the right non-profit? Is it trustworthy? Is it accomplishing anything? Is it competent? Ethical?
If you have that concern, you are not alone. At Change Gangs, we use a standardized nomination and review process that helps us make informed donation choices. Plus, the research work is shared across the group so that the time required from each member is reasonable.
But what if you don’t belong to a giving circle, and you want to make good donation choices? I’m including 4 resources that you can use before you donate so that you’ll know you’re sending off your hard earned money to good organizations.
Charity Eval for a 10 Year Old
Providing children with money to donate and allowing them to choose who to help can be a profoundly satisfying experience for children. Lucy Bernholz with Philanthropy 2173 put together these questions to help kids make informed choices and help them practice critical thinking skills.
BUT… Even though it’s simple enough for a 10 year old to use, the questions can be used by anyone, because they provide a good basis for thinking about a non-profit.
- What does the organization do?
- How do they do it?
- How do they know if they are making a difference?
5 Probing Questions
In addition to the three questions above, Stannard Stockton of Tactical Philanthropy offers additional questions to really explore the impact a non-profit is making. Please read his full post for an in-depth description of each question.
- On what research or evidence did the organization design its programs?
- What information does the nonprofit collect about the results of its programs?
- How does the organization systematically analyze the information it collects?
- How has the nonprofit adjusted its activities in response to new information?
- Does the organization have an absolute focus on producing results?
Do It Yourself Evals
Give Well recognizes that different charities are doing different work and should be evaluated according to the impact they are trying to make. They provide a list of evaluation questions that vary according to the non-profit’s focus.
For example, are you interested in supporting a non-profit that promotes micro-finance? Give Well suggests that you ask, “What practices are there for preventing clients from taking on too much debt? Do you monitor whether such practices are effective at preventing over-indebtedness? “
Online Charity Rater
This evaluation guide uses 10 multiple choice questions to help you score an organization using the non-profit’s website and annual report. The process takes approximately 5 – 10 minutes to complete. I like it because I can evaluate any non-profit, not just the big ones that have been rated by Charity Navigator, and it puts me in charge of thinking critically about the quality of the non-profit I’m about to send my hard earned dollars.
Using some evaluation process before donating is a really good idea– if you care that the money you’ve worked hard to earn actually makes a difference. Be aware that no evaluation system is perfect. Some non-profit organizations, just like for profit businesses, aren’t always as transparent as we’d like, and some non-profits will misrepresent their information or intentionally deceive donors. But doing some sort of consistent research and critical thinking before you send out donations will help you make better choices and choose better organizations most of the time.