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How to support non-profit organizations with a budget

No riches? No problem. How you can still make a big impact, even if you have a budget

When the holiday season rolls on, there will be a lot of thanks and gifts, but what about giving back? For many of us, the holidays are a time for reflection, so if you've been thinking this is the year you'll get into philanthropy – but have given in to the lack of Bezos – like wealth – we can help.

turns. out, those of us by ordinary means can do extraordinary things even through modest giving. We spoke with Kevin Scally, Chief Relations Officer at Charity Navigator, the world's largest evaluator of non-profit organizations, to learn how those of us with a small budget can have an exaggerated impact. Read on for his suggestions.

In this article:

Start small

"Many people feel that their donation will not make a difference if they do not have huge sums to give away," says Scally. "But a donation of any size really makes a difference." Philanthropy is always a team effort and "the more individuals that come together the better the result."

So unlike MacKenzie Scott, who literally can not give away his money fast enough, you probably can not start your own foundation or finance hundreds of organizations. But you can contribute to foundations and funds run by others, perhaps by making a small recurring donation – many non-profit organizations allow you to give as little as $ 5 a month, which adds up over time, and is an amount you probably will not to feel. in your wallet.

Make it a group effort

Against To that end, how can like-minded people pool their resources more directly? "There's a movement called 'giving circles,'" Scally says. a more active donor.

Scally says the easiest way to get started is to "check out a group called Grapevine that works with Philanthropy Together." At Grapevine, you can "search within your area to find like-minded donors to support the purposes you choose. Grapevine does it practically as well as personally. "Once you have found a common interest with like-minded potential donors, you can work together to maximize the power of your donations.

Think Outside Your Wallet

" Not All Donations Need be in the form of money. "says Scally." Think of the three "T: Time, tax and talent." This approach allows you to contribute even if your budget does not allow for large financial donations.

"You can donate your time to something you like or are passionate about," he says. "In fact, it's a really good way to find out where your passions are: to try out an organization, see how they work, and if you're making a connection. You can see the impact they're making on their own."

from a talent perspective, maybe you're a graphic designer or a social media spouse or a good cook, "he adds. "There are organizations that have needs that are in line with your talents, and you may be able to donate them as well." Remember that nonprofits need skills that you may have learned and honed in the for-profit world.

Scally also mentions that people can organize fundraisers or be sponsored if they run a marathon or other race, which is a great way to get others to get in the habit of giving. As you probably know, Facebook and other online / social media channels allow you to encourage others to join you and donate to a favorite non-profit organization.

Many of us also donate things we no longer need, such as gently using toys or coats , or non-sustainable foods. You can even donate your used car. And even if your budget does not allow for a large donation in this world, you can also give as a last resort by donating your life insurance income to charity.

Make a budget

How much should you give? And how to do it? Scally recommends that you find "ways you can donate where you do not feel the financial impact", especially donating on a monthly basis. "Think about the cost of a coffee – maybe five bucks – or the price of lunch. If you donate it once a month, you probably will not feel it in your budget, but by the end of the year you have donated $ 60 to an organization, and it may be more than you could have done if you had earned a one-time expense. "

When it comes to how much to give," there are people who give up to 20% of their income, "he says," but I would "3% is a good place to start and get out of there. It's a viable figure for most people. Like all financial decisions, you want to make sure it fits your budget and is sustainable for you." You can always increase the percentage later if you think it fits your budget.

Prioritize what's most important to you

So it's so to give. But you still have to choose what to give. Charity Navigator estimates nearly 200,000 different nonprofits, which means there are many options out there. To make the choices more manageable, Scally says you should "give with your heart and your head."

Give with your heart

"You will probably have different areas of interest or passion – to support your alma mater; provide to institutions that fund research on a disease that has affected a family member. You will not find your passions, they will find you. I would listen to them and support accordingly, he says.

Keep in mind that you are more likely to become a long-term philanthropist if you give to things that you really care about. One reason we give is because it feels good for us, not just for the recipient. There's nothing wrong with that, especially if that feeling promotes further generosity.

"A friend of mine has a named scholarship of $ 1,000 a year on his alma mater that he finances," says Scally. "He actually has the opportunity to meet the student recipient on an annual basis as well, which is very cool." That feeling of personal connection can open both wallets and hearts. Funding scholarships, perhaps for as little as $ 500, can be arranged at many colleges, "perhaps through a general scholarship fund or a named scholarship, depending on the college," Scally said. "The school's development office will be able to give you the information you need."

"You will not find your passions, they will find you."

—Kevin Scally, Charity Navigator

Give with your mind

"The great thing is to be intentional and strategic with your philanthropy," says Scally. "Many people give indiscriminately; they see an ad or they get direct mail and respond." But you will achieve more and feel more determined "if you really sit down and think about what is possible for you and make a short list of non-profit organizations that are most important to you. Limit the amount of organizations you support so that you get a greater sense of the impact you make, "he advises.

When making that list," make sure you support legitimate charities and that they are financially efficient, effective, and have a good reputation, "says Scally. you can make sure they are legitimate is to check that they are a 501c3 registered non-profit – it is an IRS subcode and you can verify it through an organization's EIN (Employer Identity Number). All organizations are issued these. You can check them on the IRS website, or you can go to Charity Navigator and enter the charity's EIN and verify that they are a registered non-profit organization. "Another reason why it is good to check that an organization is registered is that donations to charity are only deductible if they are given to a registered 501c3 company.

When it comes to ensuring that a registered organization uses its funds well, Scally mentions that one of the main functions of Charity Navigators is to help people find out if a particular organization is "economically efficient and effective. Ten million donors come to us every year just to answer those questions, ”he says. "And we ourselves are a 501c3."

Whether you give money, time or anything else, you want to make sure it is used well.

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