Five simple steps to better giving
Follow these five simple steps to ensure that you give with your head as well as your heart.
Clarify your values
Nonprofits are as diverse as their donors. Be proactive and don’t just give to the first one that solicits you! Consider the type of charity you want to support—small or large; start-up or established; local, national, or international.
Focus on the mission
Make sure a nonprofit has an easy-to- understand mission that aligns with your principles and beliefs. You can look up a specific nonprofit in Candid’s GuideStar resource of more than 2.9 million current and historic organizations, or you can use the search filters to find charities by category, size, and location.
Get the facts
Dig deeper once you find a nonprofit that meets your basic requirements. Pay attention to factors that are most relevant to nonprofit performance—results, transparency, and leadership.
Remember: there are no stories without numbers, and no numbers without stories. Visit a nonprofit’s website. Read its annual report. And turn to its GuideStar nonprofit profile for an easy indication of its transparency. Look for a Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum Seal of Transparency logo on its profile to research mission statements, financial statistics, and impact and effectiveness information.
Let’s face it: there are sham nonprofits out there. If you find an organization on Candid’s Guidestar resource, you know the IRS recognizes it as tax exempt. (Our GuideStar Pro tool includes information on defunct organizations, but those profiles are clearly marked.) If you can’t find a nonprofit, further investigation is required:
- If the charity is not on Candid’s GuideStar, ask to see its IRS letter of determination.
- If the organization is faith based, ask to see its official listing in a directory for its denomination.
Trust your instincts
If you have concerns about a nonprofit, don’t contribute. Instead, find another nonprofit that does similar work but makes you feel more comfortable. Remember, reputable nonprofits:
- Are willing to send you literature about their work, or direct you to their website.
- Don’t use pressure tactics.
- Take “no” for an answer.
Tools and resources
General nonprofit research
- What you need to know before you giveAt Candid, we get asked all kinds of questions. Here are some of the questions we’ve been hearing recently.
- Matching your donation with your intention—why information mattersEven accurate, authoritative information might have a deeper story behind it. Reading beyond names and headlines to understand an organization’s mission, approach, budget, and leadership are important to do anytime you make a gift.
- Key Facts on U.S. Nonprofits and FoundationsView at-a-glance information about the U.S. nonprofit sector. Learn about public nonprofits, private foundations, and other 501(c) nonprofits.
- Highlights of IRS Form 990To help you navigate a nonprofit’s Form 990, this illustrated guide gives an overview of each section of the form and answers the questions we hear most often about the 990.
Disaster relief and recovery
- Helping out when disaster strikes—and before and after emergencies happenHere are suggestions for disaster giving that has both short- and long-term impact.
- Measuring the State of Disaster PhilanthropyFind out what types of disasters and what strategies are being funded, where the funding is going, and learn how to make more strategic decisions about disaster-related funding.
- Candid BlogLearn about key topics, tips, and news from the nonprofit sector.
- Philanthropy News Digest (PND)A daily news service of Candid with philanthropy-related articles and features
- Explore issuesThe work from the field is diverse, and insights can come from everywhere. Discover what you can learn about today.