How do you decide which charties to give to and which to pass up?

Charities make a big push to raise money during the holiday season. Today’s Question: How do you decide which charties to give to and which to pass up?

  • Kurt

    I choose to give to those that aid a group that has significance to my family, and I expect that this is true for most people. In our case that is Autism.. Also to a scholarship fund that honors a friend. Periodically to other groups as the spirit moves me-veterans and conservation groups. But there is always some personal connection or interest.

  • Santa’s Elf

    God Bless You Kurt!

    Merry Christmas!

  • Lou

    we give the majority of our charitable contributions to Doctors Without Borders, the recipient of the 1999 Nobel Peace Prize. There are many worthy organizations but we find this one best fits our values for bringing humanitarian aid to people in need.

  • Bill

    Both of the previous comments are great examples of what charitable giving is all about.

    I would only add that, that charities being considered have the ability to use the majority of the their funds on charity. And less so on overhead and bureaucracy.

    After all, the whole point of giving is to see your money produce positive outcomes for those whom you are intending to help.

  • DMOX

    I go as local as possible. There are very reputable food donation orgs here in the cities (Mom’s Food Shelf is one!) that operate with little overhead, so the donations go right to those in need. Nothing pains me more than to see charities throwing large glamorous balls, spending tens of thousands of dollars to entertain the wealthy. Charity should help the needy in the most direct way possible.

    I appreciate large and international charities, but my opinion happens to be that we start right here on our block & work our way across the world.

  • GaryF

    Keep it close to home. Organizations that my church and my son’s school have partnerships with such as Keystone Family Services, Dorthy Day Center, Sharing and Caring Hands, and school organizations such as the Boy Scouts, band and sports programs.

    I think accountability is a factor is my giving. The further the money goes the harder it is to make sure your money is going to good use.

  • Alison

    I give to charities that support basic needs, including one that provides mental health care for the poor. I generally give through the United Way and at holiday times to Second Harvest when my company matches the donation. And MPR of course!

    I do not give to charities that send numerous requests for donations by mail. There are a couple of organization, including the Salvation Army, where I gave a donation of $25 or $50, only to receive solicitations over the next year that clearly cost at least my entire donation to send. I’ve heard the Salvation Army is a organization doing good work, but since this experience I limit my donations to a few coins in the kettles. I let them know my disgust over the excessive solicitations but the mailings continue to fill my box.

    One other thing that factors into my gift is the salary paid to head of the organization. I have a hard time giving to organizations where the CEO makes more than $200K. It’s the reason I don’t increase my MPR sustaining membership amount.

  • Steve the Cynic

    I think a balance between “close to home” and “far away” is appropriate. Does living close to me make a person more deserving of my help than living elsewhere in the world? Especially since the poorest of the poor in my neighborhood are fabulously wealthy compared to people in some some places. I support some important local initiatives, but I can do more good for humankind by helping provide clean wells and malaria nets to Africans than just about anything I give locally.

  • Laurel Malmstrom

    I don’t agree with the comment about Salvation Army….I never get much in solitations from them. We also know how much good they do…fantastic. The difference between $13,000 and a million to the CEO make me want to give more to them. I wish I could give more…and will when I can afford it.

  • GregX

    I give what I can but always cash. Sending blankets, clothes, food … is way of sending a burden because it costs time and money to sort, ship, store (SSS) tons of that stuff.

    I like helping locally – but there are some things that need help and don’t happen in your neighborhood or city. Only thinking locally is how you create city-states under a “Me & Mine” help model. I’ve donated to Grand Forks flood relief, Katrina relief, Haiti …. because when I say I would like the world to be a better place… my world covers the globe.

  • Chris

    I give to the salvation army and goodwill, only a little. I wish I could give more but I give most of my money to rich people.

  • ME

    Philanthropy is for those with surpluses. Right now I’m just trying to not be a recipient.

  • suzie

    This year I decided to keep a list of all the charitable requests I received and so far there are 328 requests. Some of these send a request letter each month. I also note if I sent them a contribution. What really gets me is the number of charaties that will send a follow-up letter wondering if I have received their “free gift” I know they all need money, but those that beg the most, get the least – if any. I have received pages of return address labels and note paper and greeting cards and calendars.. The vast majority of the address labels get shredded, the note paper gets recycled or given along with the greeting cards and calendars to a school or day care for the kids to use in their art work. At least all this mail keeps the post office busy paid.

  • Jeanne T.

    We try to involve our heads as well as our hearts when making donations. I keep a spreadsheet of what we gave, when and why. Like Suzie, I tracked who sent us solicitations for donations over a certain period. It confirmed for me that some organizations spend all of our donation, and probably more, asking for more money as well as sending us stuff (a teddy bear once!) Our donations having been trending to larger donations to more local organizations, often with a focus on the environment, and away from smaller donations to more organizations. And a big thumbs-up to Give To The Max Day, a very easy way to donate.

  • Not a grinch exactly

    We give both locally and worldwide but have started to track the organizations who call us daily – and are eliminating those groups from our ‘give to’ list.

  • this is NOT lucy

    “I give what I can but always cash. Sending blankets, clothes, food … is way of sending a burden because it costs time and money to sort, ship, store (SSS) tons of that stuff. ”

    Some people do not have the cash to give. Are you saying that there is a hierarchy to giving? Are some people better than others because they can give cash? I would think if it were a such a ‘burden’, as you describe it, there would not be a request. Maybe those items that are the supposed burden are sold and then the cash is sent out globally or locally.

    I pass on the charities that offer gifts in lieu of a donation. I have never understood why this is done.

  • Ann

    I give to churches and other groups like Salvation Army that give in the name of Jesus.. I don’t give to things like American Lung Association. They send envelopes full of address labels, even years after the donator has died. I have thrown away hundreds of labels. You would think that a lung association would care more about the environment. I have begged them to stop by phone and mail.—This is off the subject,, but how do you stop cable companies from sending junk mail every week?

  • Jerry

    First, our household budget only allows so much cash (check) for donations.

    Second, from our “values,” we mostly donate to educational causes (especially our colleges). This extends to MN Literacy in a small way. That is the majority amount.

    Third, we participate in causes that our nephews or nieces or neighbors are active in. This does not make a big percentage.

    Last, we donate to “world peace” organizations such as Heffer and Quakers.

    As other “blog writers” have said, I get very tired of organizations sending something every quarter and causing me to wonder if their money is spent wisely.