Selecting Your Charity of Choice?

There can be a number of reasons why a person might want to select a charity of choice. Maybe it’s prompted by a review of the family budget, the preparation of a Will or a desire to see evidence of the social impact. If you are like me, all three reasons apply.

The benefits of taking a planned approach to your charitable giving is that it allows you to demonstrate your financial commitment to one or more social causes while living within your personal budget. For the charity, it can represent the forming of a longstanding partnership where donors and charities are making a shared, sustainable commitment to a solving a social problem.

Below is my list of considerations when choosing to donate to charities within my annual and legacy plans. I hope you will find it helpful.

  1. Aligning social causes with my personal values. Having set criteria for narrowing my choice(s) helps in the final decision. Children, education and health are important to me. What’s important to you?
  2. Talking to allied professionals (i.e. lawyers, investment advisors) along with fundraising specialists, especially when crafting a Will and Estate Plan has given me added clarity. With so many options for leaving a gift of legacy, it’s best to have thoughtful advice to ensure the financial gift is directed in line with your wishes after you are gone.
  3. I like to look back on my own life experiences and weigh my criteria against those that have resonated with me. Were organizations along the way helpful to me or important to people I know? Do gaps in programs or services exist now that I hoped would have been fulfilled over my lifetime?
  4. What charities stand out as having healthy reputations and are well-known for their transparency and integrity? By exploring websites and speaking to friends  I can narrow the possible choices.
  5. The charity’s financial health and sustainability are important criteria so I can feel confident my donation will be well-managed and make a difference to those who need it. Looking at financial reports and having conversations with people in the organizations have helped me understand the needs and challenges the charity is tackling.
  6. Having confidence in the organization’s management and governance volunteer leadership is my gut check on the quality of the charity. Has the leadership been consistent? Are the leaders truly passionate about the cause? Can they demonstrate the progress the charity is making? Are they good stewards?
  7. Knowing a charity remains relevant is essential to me. I like to learn how the charity innovates e.g. client programs,  awareness campaigns and fundraising initiatives. Having this information has led me to start or stop donating to some charities over the years.
  8. My final consideration is a ’90/10 Rule’. I make planned annual contributions using  90% of the budget, while I set aside 10% in the event of an unforeseen need presents itself (e.g. natural disaster, memorial gift).

Apart from managing your money and financial priorities, adopting a process of selecting charities of choice can provide you with the opportunity to explore social causes and engage family and friends in the conversation about making a charitable choice.

To help you along, I recommend visiting the websites below:

United Way Canada

Canadian Association of Gift Planners

Canada Helps

Canada Revenue Agency

If after reading this article you decided that it was helpful, share it with your network and/or reply with a comment below. Thank you!

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If you have a tribute story about your charity of choice to share click on My Charity

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