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5 Step Guide to Choosing a Charity to Support

December 8, 2022

Illustration featuring coins, calculator, money, gift, and clock with text saying Giving 101

1. Find a cause or organization that aligns with your values

A big part of giving back to your community is benefiting from the boost of endorphins and connectedness that it provides to you in return. Another factor is seeing things you believe in come to life in tangible ways. From helping people experiencing homelessness or mentoring youth in your community, finding a cause that resonates with you is a vital part of the giving experience.

Whether you’re donating monetarily or giving of your time, it’s always important to find a charitable outlet that is in alignment with your personal values. There are so many wonderful, credible organizations that you’re bound to find one that is a perfect fit for you. 

2. Check out the details on your favorite charities

Once you’ve picked out a few organizations that you’d like to support, be sure to do your research. Don’t be swayed by marketing campaigns or social ads alone. Reputable charities and non-profits will be transparent about their practices, their funding, and their beliefs. 

Be sure that you’re wisely investing your time and money with a cause that is credible. Some resources to help with this are websites like Charity Navigator or Guidestar.

3. Decide what you want your impact to be

You’ve done your research, and you’re ready to give back! But before you start collecting cans or hitting submit on that donation – decide what you’d like your long and short-term impact to be. Are you wanting to get more involved at a local chapter of the Boys & Girls Club to give back to a community that impacted you growing up? Are you wanting to make a monetary difference at a local food bank that’s understaffed? 

In our 2022 Happy Money Giving Survey, we asked people who recently donated money or time what they thought the biggest impact was.

For those who donated money, they considered the most important impact to be:

  • 23.4%: Monetary 
  • 30.1%: Volunteering time
  • 46.5%: Both money and time are equally impactful

For those who donated time, they considered the most important impact to be:

  • 14.2%: Monetary 
  • 44.3%: Volunteering time
  • 41.6%:Both money and time are equally impactful

All giving matters regardless of what form it may take. By taking time to assess the type of giving that will be the most impactful and bring you the most satisfaction, you will be set up for success to have a longer, and more fulfilling, experience on your giving journey. 

4. Find a way to give that suits your lifestyle and budget

Charity? Found it. Research? Done. Goals? Check! Now it’s time to align your goals with your reality. Aspiring to donate $5,000 this year to a charity close to your heart is incredible but may not be realistic for your budget right now. Or maybe you’d love to volunteer at the soup kitchen three times a week, but your personal obligations would make that unsustainable. 

In our 2022 Happy Money Giving Survey, we asked people if they had the option to donate time or money, how would they choose? 55% of respondents said – it depends. Among these folks, there were five factors that impacted their decision:

  • Availability (26%)
  • Finances (18%)
  • What the charity / cause needs/ wants (17%)
  • My physical limitations (6%) 
  • Distance / location (3%)

By identifying your goals up front, you can decide how to take small steps towards those over time. Plus, seeing how your contributions are ultimately making progress on your charitable goals will encourage you to keep going.

5. See if your impact can be doubled

Now that you’re all set to start making an impact in your community, see if your efforts can be easily doubled. You could see if a friend or family member would like to join you once a month to volunteer or if they’d be willing to match your financial donation. Also, some employers offer charitable matching incentives. Be sure to check with your company to see if this is something they offer.

For more tips and tools on giving this holiday season, download your copy of the 2022 Giving Guide by Happy Money.