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Kristen’s Tips: Charitable Giving: What You Need to Know

Last evening, I spoke at an event about how to give towards causes that you are passionate about. So many organizations have great websites and inspiring photos and videos of the work they do. November and December are two of the biggest months for charitable giving and organizations are preparing now for their final push to their networks. If you are a discriminating giver, here are Kristen’s tips that can help you choose wisely:

Get out there: I always encourage people to get involved and see an organization in action. You can learn a lot by being involved and donating some time to help out, prior to significant financial giving. Before giving to the local food bank, spend some time dishing up soup. If it’s an international nonprofit, I encourage you to take a trip to see the work firsthand, it’s leaders in action, and if there are holes in fulfilling the mission and goals.

Recently, I was doing consulting work for an international documentary film and traveled to Haiti along with the film crew. As a business development professional who has worked in nonprofit and for-profit sectors in Haiti for many years, I had the opportunity to tap some of my colleagues to contribute to this film.

To witness an organization’s work on a “regular day” level can be telling. It can be inspirational and empowering to see the results a well-facilitated organization. Asking questions not only about the leadership, but those being served and their perspectives on the work of the organization can sometimes show holes in the infrastructure and where financial giving could be designated in the future. It could also show gaping chasms in infrastructure, transparency, and organization that may make you grateful to walk away after the visit and before investing financially.

Do your research.¬†Guide Star (www.guidestar.org) has records of close to 2 million nonprofit organization’s registered with the Internal Revenue Service. There is a free section of this website that allows you to check out non-profit organization’s Form 990, which is the basic filing document for all nonprofits. Here, you will be able to see the charities income, spending, mission and leaders salaries.

We all want to see our charitable funds go towards causes we care about, and more importantly, that are making a sustainable difference.¬†Get involved and do your research. There is nothing wrong with “shopping around” for the organization that’s right for you. Once you have done your due diligence, give generously to causes that make a difference and make a difference in the lives of others!

By Kristen

As a performance coach, I have helped bring clarity to C-level executives under pressure, analyzing their need and helping them craft solutions. I advised for-profit multi-million dollar companies and non-profit organizations in development, branding, and employment issues.

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