The pandemic has deeply impacted charitable giving, and nonprofits have been hit hard. People who have lost jobs now don’t have the resources to donate to causes they care about at the same level they had prior to the pandemic.
Additionally, Harris Insights and Analytics – an American market research and analytics company that has tracked the sentiments, behaviors, and motivations of American adults since 1963 – found in a poll last year that two in five families are making less than they did before the start of the pandemic.
Many nonprofits are challenged by the increased need for their services due to the pandemic, and simultaneously, donations seem to have decreased. In this article, I’m going to share information on charitable giving and provide some resources for people looking to dig deeper into the organizations they want to support.
I suggest that the first step in charitable giving is to get a handle on why you are donating money. It seems like an easy task, but it is important to take seriously. Do you give because it makes you feel good? Do you contribute because you want to help people or an organization achieve their goals? Is it part of how you live out your values?
When most people start to think about contributing money, it usually starts locally. Nonprofits that your friends and their children are involved with are often first on the list. Next come other local nonprofits, then national nonprofits, and international nonprofits.
You can also give money to one organization that distributes your donation to multiple agencies. After creating your list of organizations to give to, it is nice to figure out which ones allocate their resources efficiently. One tool to help with this is charitynavigator.org.
The next challenge is to figure out how much money you are able to donate. Most people have a certain amount of discretionary funds they can allocate to giving, and an almost unlimited number of causes they want to give to. There is no algorithm for this question, but a small gift of money can go a long way to helping out a family or community in need.
Pete Singer, author of The Life You Can Save, can help answer the above questions. His book is a great read for charitable giving, and his website, thelifeyoucansave.org, is an excellent resource for understanding the impact charitable giving can have on people and nonprofits. It also lists nonprofits by efficiency of funds.
Mr. Singer encourages people to ask these four questions when considering donating to organizations:
1) How much difference can I make?
2) Am I expected to abandon my career?
3) Isn’t charity bureaucratic and ineffective anyway?
4) Isn’t it a burden to give up so much?
Two other websites that can assist with the giving process are givewell.org and givingwhatwecan.org. One of the most important features of each is the filter process that allows you to get more information on many nonprofits and narrow down where you would like to donate based on your interests and concerns – including searching for local nonprofits – and providing detailed information about each one.
Donating time and money is one of the most important activities Americans do every day. While the process can be challenging, remember that you can engage in it at your own pace and for your own reasons. It can also be fun and encouraging to see all the good work being done in our communities, which you can be a part of with your giving. You just need to decide where to donate.
For those who cannot give financially, volunteering is just as helpful to organizations; a volunteer’s time is worth over $30 an hour in Washington. Time, donated by volunteering, is money.
If you’re 55+ and interested in learning more about volunteering through Solid Ground’s RSVP of King County, please contact RSVP Coordinator Megan Wildhood at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.694.6786.