Don’t Be Fooled! Five Mistakes to Avoid When Giving
April 4, 2014
With April Fools’ Day occurring earlier this week, you most likely have had your fair share of jokes and trickeries. To prevent you from being fooled more than necessary, we have found five common mistakes frequently made by people when giving and, suggested solutions to avoid them:
- Reacting to requests. People frequently give in reaction to requests, “please support my walk-a-thon” or “please sponsor our event for…”, instead of planning their charitable donations. Although it is important and admirable to help those who are suddenly in need, reacting to these requests frequently exhausts the money you can afford to donate before giving to organizations you care passionately about.
Solution: To make your donations go further and to organizations you truly care about, we suggest you develop a Giving Plan and budget your giving dollars each year. Find and research an organization that matches your passion and determine how much and when you would like to donate. Central Carolina Community Foundation can also provide resources and advisors who can assist you.
- Neglecting to research a charity. We all live busy lives and are constantly bombarded with information. It is easy to trust friends or jump on the bandwagon for the latest trend on social media in order to save time researching where our charitable dollars are distributed. However, as the Better Business Bureau warns us, “Even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse. So don’t just take their word for it.”
Solution: Make time to research the organizations to ensure you are giving wisely. Ask questions. Use references such as guidestar.org or charitynavigator.org to view organization’s ratings. If you are planning to give locally, you can always contact the Community Foundation with any questions.
- Succumbing to high-pressure emotional pitches. Look cautiously toward telemarketers or door-to-door solicitors. Charities will accept your money at any point, so don’t rush into a gift because a solicitor pushes it. Charity telemarketers can be employed by for-profit companies who keep a large portion of the dollars they collect.
Solution: Take time to think about your contributions. Do your research and know who your money is going to and how it will be spent. Unless you know the charity very well, avoid giving financial information over the phone and use secure online sites or the mail instead.
- Limiting your giving to “low overhead” organizations. While it is important to consider how much money a charity spends on the actual cause, it does not necessarily tell the entire story. In order to be successful, organizations still need funds to cover the day-to- day effectiveness and operations.
Solution: As part of your research of organizations, look into the strategic plan of the group and how it is implemented. Compare nonprofits of similar sizes and call the organizations to ask them to explain any questions you have about their overhead costs.
- Assuming a charity wants any item you donate. Many organizations spend unnecessary dollars each year due to tossing or disposing of inacceptable donations.
Solution: Call the charity and ask about items’ acceptability. The charities will also be able to tell you which items they have the most need for or suggest other acceptable donations.
I hope these recommendations will help you foolproof you charitable giving!