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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.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Getting Started for a First-Time Donor


Charity Navigator offers free resources to help donors give confidently to charities making an impact. Today we’re sharing a few of our tips for first-time donors. Learn how to find the right charity for you and make effective and impactful contributions you can feel good about. 



Charity Navigator has all the resources you need to get started. The first step is to identify the charity you want to support. We recommend spending a few minutes thinking about the causes and issues that matter most to you. If you could be remembered for changing the world in one way, what would it be? Once you have the answer you can use our tools to help you find the right charity to support.

Our Discover Feature is a great tool to help you quickly find a charity that’s working on the cause or issue you’re passionate about. Select from one of our cause areas (animals, arts and culture, community development, education, environment, health, human services, international relief, human and civil rights, religion, and medical research) and then choose the appropriate sub-category. This will help you narrow down your search to the charities working in this area. From there you can sort by location, star rating, budget, etc.

Like our Discover Feature, our Advanced Search Tool is another excellent resource to help you find a charity. If you’re looking for a charity working in a particular city, state, or region, this is the tool for you. Enter the appropriate information and hit “Submit.” The tool sorts through all of our rated and unrated charities to provide you with a list of organizations that meet your criteria. Once you have your list you can sort it by name, star rating, budget, etc.

Once you’ve found your charity, you’ll want to consider your budget and schedule for giving. Be honest with yourself and determine how much you have to donate and whether it works best for you to give monthly, quarterly, or annually. 

Our recent posts Your Guide to Donating on a Limited Budget and Best Times to Donate to Your Favorite Charity offer advice and helpful tips for planning your budget and the timing of your contributions.

After you’ve chosen your charity and determined your budget and donation schedule, it’s time to give! Most charities allow you to make your donations quickly and easily online, some even allow you to save your information online to simplify future giving.

Look at your donation as an investment in the charity’s work. You’re a partner in their work to change the world. Once you’ve made your donation, follow up with them. Ask about their progress and where they’re going. What successes are they seeing? What challenges do they face? This conversation will help you feel more connected to the world-changing work.

Take a look at our Question to Ask Before Giving for more ideas for how to shape your conversation with the charities you support.

Written by Ashley, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

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