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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Friday, December 8, 2017

How to Maximize Your Year-End Giving: A Charity Navigator Guide

The holiday season is a time filled different charitable traditions. We give gifts, food, and
quality time. This time of year is one when we think about giving back to our communities
(and is also the last chance to maximize the charitable tax deduction).


So, how do you make sure maximizing impact is also a part of your year-end giving traditions?
Charity Navigator has put together a list of 4 tips to make impactful giving a stress-free and fun
part of your holiday season.
1. Does the charity match your passions?
As you consider which charities to support this year, remember that there are roughly one million
of them. That means you don’t have to settle for an organization that isn’t a perfect match for
your beliefs and goals. No matter what cause you want to support – whether it is providing
humanitarian aid to the Rohingya refugees, helping our returning troops find work, or finding a
cure for a particular disease – there’s a charity out there that matches your intentions. Take the
time to find it and confirm (not just assume) it offers the programs and services that match your
charitable interests.


2. Is the charity fiscally responsible, ethical, and effective?
Before you give to any charity this holiday season:  
(a )Examine the charity’s finances. Financially healthy organizations - those that are both financially efficient and sustainable - have greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their charitable mission.
(b) Ensure the charity is accountable and transparent. Charities that are an open book and follow good governance practices are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities.
(c) Look for signs of effectiveness. The charity's ability to bring about long-lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and for your donation, so make sure you find evidence of its impact.

3. Do you trust it enough to give without strings attached? Donors sometimes like to designate their contributions for specific projects and purposes. While this may be ideal for disaster giving (such as with Hurricanes Harvey, Maria, and Irma), don’t be the roadblock in your favorite charity’s quest to do good work. Take the time to research your charity so that you can trust them. Then give an unrestricted gift so the charity has the flexibility to respond to changing demands for its services and to spend the money where it is most needed to continue their day-to-day good work.

4. Does the charity have strong leadership?
Good charities usually have formidable leaders, more so even than in the private sector.
Look for a charity with a dynamic, proven leader. Organizations with high turnover usually
struggle, and the inability to retain quality leadership is often a red flag for instability.

For more information on year-end giving, see our Holiday Giving Guide.
For more tips on maximizing giving all year long, see our 5 Steps to Informed Giving.

Written by Katie Rusnock, Advisory System Manager at Charity Navigator.

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