It's that time of year when we begin to contemplate how we wish to be charitable at Thanksgiving and Christmas. If you are like my husband and I in that we deeply care and are compassionate but we want the money we donate to be used responsibly, with integrity and to actually get to the very needs that we have chosen to contribute to. Many, many, many needs tug at all our hearts in various ways and for various reasons, but we can only contribute to a certain extent.
So how can we obtain this certainty of efficiency and responsibility in organizations?
Charity Navigator, America's premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America's largest charities.
View the highest and lowest rates charities, read about many Top Ten Lists such as
• The Ten Top Notch Charities
• The Ten Best Charities Everyone's Heard Of
• Ten Charities Expanding In A Hurry
I really appreciated Tips For Holiday Giving Guide
Be a 3-D giver: There are three components that a wise donor must consider before selecting a charity.
1.Check the charity’s financial performance: Financially healthy organizations – those that are both financially efficient and sustainable - have greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their goals. Charity Navigator’s ratings provide this information.
2.Review the charity’s commitment to accountability and transparency: Generally speaking, charities that follow good governance practices are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities so, the risk that charities would misuse donations should be lower than for charities that don't adopt such practices. Donors can view data regarding accountability and transparency for more than 1,000 charities (and growing each month) on the Charity Navigator website.
3.Assess the charity’s results (whether the charity can show evidence that it makes a meaningful difference for people and communities who receive services): Learn about a charity’s accomplishments, goals and challenges by reviewing its website and/or talking with staff. You should be able to ascertain the quality and depth of the charity’s results as well as its capacity to continue to get these results. In the not-too-distant future, Charity Navigator plans to include results information for each of the charity’s it rates.
Follow up on disaster donations: Millions of Americans reached into their pockets this year already and gave generously in response to the Haiti earthquake, Chile earthquake, Gulf oil spill and the Pakistan floods. If you gave, now is the time to follow up on that gift. Contact the charity that you supported and find out what the organization has been able to accomplish. As we enter the more expensive and time-consuming reconstruction phase of recovery from these disasters, inquire about the projects the charity is currently tackling. If you find merit in their continued endeavors, make an additional donation.
Find inspiration through social media, but be careful when donating: Social networking tools like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and blogs enable charities and their supporters to deliver heartfelt appeals to our computers and phones. While these services can increase awareness of a charity and its cause, you should not give based on emotional appeals of these vehicles. You must take at least a few minutes of your time to investigate the groups behind such pleas for help, to ensure that it comes from a legitimate charity. And if you aren’t 100% sure who and what is behind the appeal, then you should visit either Charity Navigator or the charity’s own website to make your online donation.
Give without strings attached: Funders of all types increasingly give gifts that are targeted to specific programs or services. While it is understandable that givers want to fund projects that have a tangible, heartwarming end result, this hamstrings charities. First, it makes it difficult for a charity to change direction mid-project should it finds a more effective course. Second, charities have to scramble to find the funds to cover their day-to-day costs, such as the electric bill. So, while it isn’t particularly exciting to give towards a charity’s general operating funds, it is crucial if you want your favorite charity to be successful.
I exhort you do your due diligence as suggested by Charity Navigator but also to pray and ask God's direction and wisdom.
Our Giving Should Reflect God’s Agenda
Proverbs 19:17 — “He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done.”
Luke 19:8 — “But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, ‘Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.’ ”
Acts 10:2-4 — “[Cornelius] and all his family were devout and God-fearing; he gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly. One day at about three in the afternoon he had a vision. He distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said, ‘Cornelius!’ Cornelius stared at him in fear. ‘What is it, Lord?’ he asked. The angel answered, ‘Your prayers and gifts to the poor have come up as a memorial offering before God ...’ ”
Galatians 2:9-10 — “James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
James 1:27 — “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
Matthew 25:34-40 — “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ ”
Luke 8:1-3 — “After this, Jesus traveled about from one town and village to another, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God. The Twelve were with him, and also some women who ... were helping to support them out of their own means.”
1 Corinthians 9:14 — “In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should receive their living from the gospel.”
Philippians 4:15-17 — “Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need. Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account.”
Romans 12:13 — “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”