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Monday, September 9, 2013

How To Choose The Right Charity For You

Giving to charity is one of the most important things that we can do. It lets us help those who are less fortunate than ourselves, and gives us the opportunity to change people’s lives. However, with so many deserving causes out there, how do you decide where your money will do the most good?

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First, you should give to a cause that you believe in and means something to you personally. For example, if you have had a family member suffer from cancer, then giving to a cancer charity would make sense. It could also be a cause that was dear to someone close to you who has now passed on. For instance, think about Lois Pope, the wife of the late founder of the National Enquirer. She oversees a charitable organization called Leaders In Furthering Education (LIFE), following on from her husband’s endowment of a scholarship for medical students in New York.

You also want to make sure that your money is going where you think it is going. There are lots of charities with similar names, and it’s important to make sure you’re giving to the right one. For example, if you think you are giving to a local police association, make sure it is really local and not one from another state. The best way of doing this is by giving to charities that you know, but if you don’t, don’t be afraid to ask them questions – after all, they are asking for your money, so you’re entitled to know a bit more about them.

Another important thing to understand is exactly where your money goes. There are two aspects to this. First of all, find out how much of your money will make it to people in need. Some charities spend too much of the money they raise paying for fundraisers or administration. You should be looking for a charity where at least 70% of the money they raise is spent directly on charitable work. The other aspect is to understand exactly how they go about their work – different charities will approach the same issue in different ways. For instance, a charity could address the issue of teen pregnancy by promoting abstinence, or it could provide support to young mothers. In general, you want to select a charity whose views are broadly aligned with your own.

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The other thing– and it’s sad to say – is that there are many scam artists out there who don’t care about charity. All they want to do is take your money, usually under false pretenses. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the charity they claim to represent is fraudulent – but do you know that they actually are from that charity? If you want to protect yourself and make sure that your money is going where you think it is, don’t give out personal information or credit card details at the door or over the phone. Instead, think about making a donation directly on the charity’s website and avoid giving cash to people that you don’t know.

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