Give the same amount but have a greater impact
Some approaches to supporting a charity can move the needle more than others. For example, the simple act of supporting necessary—but unglamorous and underfunded—needs can make those dollars go further and accomplish more. And when you couple your donation with a commitment to volunteer or advocate for the charity or cause, you create added leverage. So how can you be a more effective donor? Here are strategies you can think about as you develop your own approach to achieving your personal charitable mission and goals.
Offer unrestricted support to your favorite charity
It can be challenging for nonprofits to raise money for non-glamorous but essential needs such as equipment, storage, a bigger bathroom for clients, or vehicles.
Build the capacity of your favorite charity
Supporting the skill-building of board and staff is a powerful way to strengthen your favorite organizations. This support is often difficult to find. A few thousand dollars can pay for desired training in management, fundraising, marketing, planning, the cost of attending a conference, or for board and leadership development.
Volunteer your time and skills
Offering your time to favorite organizations is a great way to contribute and also learn more about gaps and needs. Take stock of your skills and experience, and talk with the organization to find out what kind of help it might need. Volunteers provide assistance in the areas of technology, communications, fundraising, facilitation, and administrative help, and they can offer consulting in a specific program area such as education or health.
Commit for a number of years
Nonprofit organizations greatly value steady support over a number of years, either unrestricted or project support. Consistent funding streams make planning much easier, and the relationships you develop over time create opportunities for learning, volunteering, and championing the organization.
Speak out for the organizations and charitable causes you are passionate about
Shine a spotlight on the organizations and issues you care about. Increasing the visibility of your groups and causes attracts additional donors and funding, engages partners, and educates your community about the important role of nonprofits. Ways to speak out include:
- Telling family, friends, and colleagues about the organizations and causes you support, and inviting them to attend events and visit with you
- Introducing other donors to an organization’s board and staff
- Writing letters to the local newspaper or magazine editor about your organizations and causes
- Blogging and tweeting about your groups’ accomplishments, and about an important problem in the community that is being overlooked
- Writing your local elected representatives
Donors who give internationally realize that even modest gifts can have a tremendous impact in a developing country. Some international funders provide relief for natural disasters and civil conflicts. Others seek to address extreme poverty by helping families access safe water and nutritious food, build homes and schools, start businesses, access credit, and enhance their earning capacity.
Donate to fields known for high social and environmental return
Over the years, many donors and foundations have found, through evaluation and their own observation, that donations to certain kinds of work consistently yield high returns. Even modest donations made now can save communities immense costs over a decade or two.
You might consider allocating some or all of your giving to these fields, which include early childhood education, preventive health and dental care for children, community colleges and vocational training schools, wetlands preservation, and others. Another high-return investment is giving to groups that educate and register voters, which builds participation and strengthens accountability in our democracy.