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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.

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Monday, February 8, 2021

In Challenging Times, Channeling Negative Emotions into Impactful Giving

What drives someone to give? While it’s safe to say that many associate the primary force behind donating comes from a positive place, that may not always be true. Many times, the initial spark of desire to donate originates from somewhere else. Maybe we read something or saw something online that angered, scared, or made us feel overwhelming sadness. These feelings are what forces us to realize that something must change. It’s these emotions that deeply impact us and sometimes propels us to act.

And that’s not a bad thing. While giving to a reputable cause and making a difference is always positive, it’s the steps to get there that can be fueled by something perceived as negative. Even if an emotion is a ‘negative’ one, how negative is it if something good comes from it in return? We obviously shouldn’t disregard those feelings. Sometimes we need to direct our feelings towards something constructive, something positive.  At Charity Navigator, we saw this in 2020 during the early waves of the pandemic across the nation, in the months following the death of George Floyd, as well as in the weeks prior to the U.S. presidential election. Donors expressed their generosity in the midst of an economic crisis by supporting charities aligned with COVID-19 relief, recovery and education effortscivil rights and racial justice, and voting rights and election laws.  

With today’s technology and the rate at which new information is made available, it has become too easy to be inundated with news. This constant drip feed of updates allows us to see the problems the world faces as they happen, and while it’s important to be connected, it can also quickly become overwhelming. Instead of shutting down and feeling frustrated or angered, find organizations that are directly involved in the causes that matter most to you. There are easy ways to do this. Asking family and friends about worthy charities is one way. Another, is to search for nonprofits on the internet, although the results may take a bit of patience to sift through. An easier, more efficient way is to use Charity Navigator to search for organizations within categories, aligned with specific causes, and focused on locations you wish to reach. Nonprofit evaluators such as ours are independent of those we rate and allow donors to have access to data from the I.R.S., information pulled from the charity’s own website, as well as other publicly-available sources. To learn more about building a philanthropic strategy, read this previously-published blog post.

The good news about these negative emotions is that no matter what may be upsetting to you, more than likely, there are several organizations already in place with solutions. Along with finding responsive organizations, it’s likely you’ll find a community of like-minded individuals looking to support the same causes that are important to you. Even when it doesn’t always feel like it, we’re less alone than we think. Talking through things with others can help us process our feelings and keep us working together for a greater good. There is a healing power in giving. Take solace knowing you’re making an impact.

Emotions outside of positivity and a desire to help others have a place when it comes to donating. Let those feelings help guide you when looking to make a donation. You’ll find what speaks to you and know where best to align your giving efforts.

Authored by Charity Navigator

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Photo Credit: Originally posted to Flickr by Ivan Radic; licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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