Give smart this Christmas

We’ve written about this before, but it’s important in this charitable season to make sure you’re giving smartly.

Outright scams are just one of the worries. It’s also important to make sure you give to charities that truly serve the mission you wish to support, that spend most of their money on service, and, whenever possible, support the community around you.

Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog for nonprofits, offers the following tips:

1. Decide your philanthropic priorities. A large national nonprofit might support research into a cure for a disease, for example, but a local group might do more to support your neighbors afflicted with that disease. Decide what really matters to you.

2. Research. Use CharityNavigator.org or similar websites to verify the charity you’ve selected is a bona fide 501(c)3. Publicly available tax forms (posted on Charity Navigator’s and other websites) should tell you how much of their revenue goes to administrative services versus mission services. Look for a lower percentage going to administration.

3. Talk to the charity about their mission and their impact on the cause you care about.

4. Decide how to give. Maybe you just want to do a one-off check. Maybe an endowment. Maybe you want to earmark your money for a specific program.

5. Follow up. Make sure to check in to make sure your money is being spent how you intended.

Make your money go as far as you can.



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