This year on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, non-profits around the world will celebrate the fourth annual #GivingTuesday – a modern charitable movement designed to incentivize giving in today’s digital age. The campaign aims to achieve the global recognition enjoyed by shopping holidays such as “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday,” and provide a meaningful balance to the consumerism of the holiday season.
#GivingTuesday emphasizes support of local communities, which bears particular importance to The Moore Charitable Foundation and founder Louis Bacon. Our many partners, who conserve land, water, and wildlife habitats, benefit from the heightened recognition of their work on this day.
Since its inception, #GivingTuesday has been extremely successful—creating more than 15.4 billion global impressions in print and social media. Each impression encourages donations of time, resources, and talents and magnifies the importance of even the smallest acts of kindness. As you consider giving this season, we encourage you to make thoughtful decisions about the causes you support and find the best ways to make your gifts count.
In the spirit of highlighting charitable giving, and following Charity Navigator’s example, we would like to share four of our most valued giving practices in hopes that you might make them part of your #GivingTuesday efforts this holiday season:
1. Set targeted goals before beginning your research. Because of the sheer number of causes and organizations in the world today, most accessible online, it can be a challenge to choose those that align best with your vision. Before becoming overwhelmed by the options, compose a list of the causes or issues most important to you and envision potential solutions. Searching only for the causes that most interest you can help eliminate the paralyzation of choice.
2. Validate the organization’s legitimacy. It is critical to ensure that your donations are placed in the right hands. As the cyberspace becomes increasingly crowded with worthy causes, basic confirmations of validity can help assure you that your generosity actually makes a difference. Here are a few things to look for:
- 501(c)(3) status – A 501c3 organization is a U.S. nonprofit that has been deemed tax-exempt under charitable purposes by the IRS. Donations to 501c3 organizations are (typically) tax deductible. You can verify 501c3 status on the IRS website or through Charity Navigator.
- Transparency – An organization with a straightforward mission, clear policies and that demonstrates accountability is more likely to act with integrity and reliability. Do some research to make sure that 1) the charity follows good governance and ethical best practices; and 2) important information about the charity is easy to find.
- Financial records – A significant majority of an organization’s budget should support programs in order to further its mission, yet it should also invest in outreach and growth opportunities. A good rule of thumb is a budget that devotes 75% of its expenses to programs and services and 25% or less on overhead costs (including fundraising and administrative fees).
3. Assess the organization on a personal level. A meaningful conversation over the phone or in person will allow you to truly get a feel for the culture of the organization. Further investigation of the group’s goals, challenges, and achievements can prove reassuring, and investment of your time in this effort will make your contributions all the more rewarding. Any legitimate organization will have multiple ways to contact them. Pick up the phone or send them an email – you’ll be glad you did.
4. Be a partner. The best outcome of a charitable relationship is a long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnership. To bring about the most change, you must be passionate about the cause and believe an organization’s mission. Strong relationships with members of the organization can allow you to integrate your goals and communicate your insights.
Whether you are an individual donor, or the Executive Director of a family foundation, these best practices can help ensure that your holiday giving makes a meaningful impact this year.
At The Moore Charitable Foundation, we cherish the charity partnerships we’ve developed over the years and we believe that passionate, well-informed donors make the biggest impact. And through the years we have witnessed the amazing growth and success of our partners in the environments and communities we care most about. You can learn more at moorecharitable.org.
To make a difference for the causes you care about, please help us share, give, and spread the message of #GivingTuesday this season.