Esperança

September 5th Is International Day of Charity: Here’s How to Pick Your Nonprofit

Every year, September 5th marks the International Day of Charity, designed to encourage people to help others through charitable acts. The date has significance as the anniversary of Mother Teresa's passing.

Any day is a great day to make charitable contributions, but September 5th carries the special significance of being the International Day of Charity. With more than 1.5 million registered nonprofits in the U.S. alone, deciding where to donate your money can seem overwhelming.

Keep reading to learn tips on how to choose a nonprofit to support on September 5th and year round.

Consider What's Important to You

No matter what the size of your donation, finding a charity that's meaningful to you makes the donation more fulfilling. Instead of donating to the first charity you see, take time to look inward and decide what's important to you.

Have you been personally affected by a disease, disaster, or other situation? Is there something you're passionate about? Is there a major problem in your community that you want to address?

Some people choose to focus on one particular issue or mission. Others want to support multiple issues. Decide what kind of an impact you want to make with your support when narrowing down the options.

Choose Between Local, National, and Global Charities

Charitable organizations exist on different levels affecting the scope of their work.

Some focus only on the local community, using funds to help local people in a certain situation. You might feel like this has more of an immediate impact on the place where you work and live or another community that's dear to your heart. Smaller local charities often have smaller budgets and receive fewer donations, which can make your money more effective.

National charities help on a broader scale. They might also have local chapters with the support of the national organization.

Some charities work on a global scale. They might help people in other countries where there isn't much funding or help otherwise.

Decide where you want your money to go and find an organization that helps on that scale. You can also support a mix of local, national, and global charities if you want to spread around your impact.

Read the Mission Statement

When you find a charity that aligns with the general area you want to support, look closely at the mission statement. An organization might help address homelessness, but how do they do that? Who specifically do they serve and what is their goal for the people they help?

There are many ways to support a single issue. An organization based on a medical condition could support research for a cure, provide education, or give patients financial support.

The mission statement should be clear and give you an idea of what the organization does, including the target group of people they help. When you look at the programs they organization offers, they should support the mission and goals of the charity.

If the charity does have a clear mission statement and supporting programs, decide if that aligns with your vision of helping with that specific issue. If you want to support the arts for kids in the inner city, do you feel like the programs the organization offers actually encourage those kids to pursue art?

Find Charities That Are Familiar

You've likely heard about several charities and organizations already, even if you've never donated to them. Perhaps your child's school ran a fundraiser to help a local charity, or you drive by an animal shelter every day on your way to work. You might have heard of local 5ks, charity balls, or other major fundraisers for charitable organizations.

You've likely heard about, seen, or interacted with lots of nonprofit organizations in your life. Consider choosing one of them to start supporting or to support again if you've donated in the past. Having that familiarity can give you confidence and a sense of trust in the organization you're supporting.

Research the Validity of the Charity

With so many nonprofit organizations, it's important to vet the ones you're considering. Just because a group calls itself a charity doesn't mean you should accept that it's a legitimate organization with good intentions.

Consider how well the organization is run, including having a diverse board with at least some members who aren't employees of the charity. Look at the annual reports to get an idea of how well the charity manages its finances.

Ask Questions

Many charitable organizations have robust websites with lots of information, but others might be limited. Either way, if you can't find the answers to your questions on the website, don't be afraid to contact the charity directly.

You might ask about specific programs, where they've had the most success, or what their most urgent needs are. You could ask where they get their funding and whether or not they have a strategic plan.

If you have any concerns or unanswered questions, clarify those issues with the charity before you decide to make your donation. You'll feel more confident in your decision when you have those answers.

When talking to the charity staff, consider those interactions. Do the staff members seem genuinely helpful and willing to share information with you? Do you get a sense of trust and does the conversation put you at ease about your donation?

Consider the Ways You Can Help

Financial contributions to the charity of your choice are an easy way to support the mission. However, you might want to do more or help in other ways. Considering the options for helping the charity helps you find an option that fulfills your desires to help.

When visiting the charity's website, look for a section on getting involved or ways to donate. This is where you can find opportunities to volunteer your time, donate supplies, or meet other needs for the charity.

Consider the types of fundraisers the organization does and how they align with your interests and preferences. If you love to run, a charity that hosts an annual fun run could be a good match. If you prefer to get dressed up and socialize, you might like supporting an organization that hosts an annual charity ball.

Celebrate the International Day of Charity

If you've been considering supporting a charity, the International Day of Charity is the perfect time to get started. Start looking for a charity to support now so you're ready to donate on September 5th.

If you'd like to support Esperança's mission, explore the ways to donate.

Elena Burr