There are many vital questions everyone should ask a charitable organization before donating. The purpose of philanthropy is to support vital causes, such as providing financial assistance to the underprivileged. Many charitable organizations actively work to improve a wide array of issues ranging from resources for the homeless, cancer research, environmental conservation, the humane treatment of animals—the list is endless. You can help them by donating or working with them as a volunteer.
Now that you’ve reached your retirement age, you have to be cautious about how you spend your savings. You want to continue your charitable giving endeavors, but need to be careful of scams and con artists who prey on seniors.
What if your donation isn’t used for charitable purposes?
Fraud and the misuse of charitable contributions is a major concern of many donors. To that end, before you write a check, make sure you discuss the organization’s operations with its administration. You can also vet a charity before you donate through websites like Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and GuideStar, which has a searchable database of organizations and their IRS Form 990.
Here are a few questions you should ask charities before donating:
- Does the organization hold a non-profit status?
- Is the organization registered with the IRS?
- What is the mission or aim of the organization?
- What percentage of donations go directly to the cause?
- What percentage of donations are used to cover administration costs?
- How does the organization pay for its fundraising events?
- Have donors complained about the organization in the past?
- How will the organization use your donation?
- What percentage of the donation is used locally?
- What percentage of the donation is used to improve living conditions in other parts of the world?
- How does the organization determine whether or not its goals are achieved in a timely manner?
- Can I see any documents that demonstrate the transparency of operations?
- Can you tell me about the progress made by the organization towards its goal?
- How is the charitable organization governed?
- What is the process of hiring volunteers?
- Will my information be safe with you?
- What other organizations are working for the same cause?
- How does the organization compare to other organizations working for the same cause?
- Does the organization follow professional standards for the workplace?
- How does the organization ensure that the beneficiaries have a say in the decision-making process?
- Has the organization faced any obstacles in meeting its goals?
- What was the employee turnover rate during the past year?
- What are the short- and long-term goals of the organization?
- How does the organization find the areas of improvement?
- Are there any follow-up programs to make its mission and work sustainable?
- How does the organization communicate its mission and progress to donors?
- Does the organization maintain its ethical standards?
Taking this comprehensive assessment of a charitable organization before you donate, will help you determine its legitimacy and if it’s indeed worthy of your hard-earned savings.