How to Make Sure Your Giving Has Impact

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GivingThis time of the year, many people give to charity. In fact, according to Giving USA 2013, individual giving amounted to $228.93 billion in 2012, an increase of 3.9 percent in current dollars from 2011. And much of it is given during the holidays.

A 2007 study by The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found that about 24 percent of annual donations were made between Thanksgiving and New Year?s Day. But how can you make sure your charitable giving will have an impact on the community? It depends on where you give.

Many African Americans give to the church regularly and this can trickle down to the community at large if the church is involved in community projects such as housing, development, or even educational scholarships. But again, this depends on the practices of the church.

But there are other ways your charitable donations can impact the community. “For some donors, this is a conundrum–some people prefer to designate their money to a specific initiative but sometimes, it’s better to provide unrestricted funds to the charity so that they can use it to pay salaries for everyday program staff who may be responsible for new initiatives,? says LaMecia C. Butler, a consultant for non-profit organizations.

You can also give your donation directly, and not through a third party organization. “If you’re concerned about making sure the money reaches and truly affects the beneficiary population, you can purchase goods and services from social enterprises. These are businesses that operate with the sole purpose of helping individuals who have barriers to the workforce which may include chronic homelessness, previous incarceration, history of abuse (substance and domestic), and mental challenges,” explains Butler. “Social enterprises range from B-to-C items such as baked goods, jewelry, soups and thrift stores to B-to-B operations such as staffing services, construction, street cleaning and pest control. The money earned from the businesses are used to cover salaries and often used to provide additional service supports from their nonprofit partners to help the individuals maintain their employment (i.e. bus tokens, clothing vouchers, etc.). Some social enterprises for your reference include Goodwill Industries, The Women’s Bean Project, Homeboy Industries, 360 Degree Solutions, Hope Builders, The Giving Keys, Greyston Bakery, and Cat Spring Tea.”

You can also search for social enterprises online in your local area or use the social enterprise finder app
socialimpactapp .com.

There is another option, too. Check out crowdfunding sites, such as Go Fund Me, Kickstarter, Indiegogo, etc. “These allow people to post their causes. And you can contribute. Donors may still run into questions of legitimacy of the fundraiser, but they can choose to donate to persons or organizations which have shown a track record of impact in the their communities through the posts and videos,” notes Butler.

Before you give, you should check out the charity to make sure it is legitimate. Check Guidestar Organization online. It will give you information on “nonprofit organizations including their 990 financial statements which detail their revenues, expenses and the salaries of their three highest paid employees from the previous year,” explains Butler. “Additionally, some organizations are registered with their Better Business Bureau, but that’s not a requirement.”

For a related article on giving, CLICK HERE.