Practical Giving - P2

At eMite we work with organizations of all sizes to reach people in need and bring outstanding, impactful outreach opportunities to our community of givers.  We understand that researching organizations can be vastly different based on the organization’s size. It is one thing to find information on a multinational charitable organization, but getting actionable intel on a smaller organization is another story.  It can take months to track-down the right individuals to talk with about giving opportunities. How about finding those financials? They are certainly not readily available. But these smaller organizations are often the ones that are getting the best work done in the most cost effective manner.  They are a good place to find impactful projects.

So how does a person, whose job isn’t researching charities for grant purposes, get information on smaller charities so that an educated giving experience can happen?!  How can donors work with smaller charities to make impact in our world? Here are a couple pointers:

  1. This may be a little self serving.  We are sorry about it, but it is true.  You can work with organizations like eMite whose job it is to make sure your donations are used for the reasons they are donated.  Organizations that make sure your gifts make the greatest impact on people’s lives. This is our calling, and we take this stewardship very seriously.  That is why 100% of every Mite goes into the field to accomplish the projects we present to our eMiters.

  2. Use the Internet for research.  There are a lot of charities out there and most of them have some type of representation on the Internet.  Viewing Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages for prospect organizations can provide good information on what they are doing.  Also, check out LinkedIn in case their staff use this resource. Finding information on the people who run the charities of interest can be helpful as well.

  3. On the prospective charity’s website look for badges that denote affiliations with organizations that track performance and financials of charities.  These organizations may include Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, BBB, GuideStar, ECFA, etc. You can also review the Secretary of State website of the charity’s home state to see if the organization is in good standing with them.  

  4. If the charity provides financial data, such as tax returns and end of year statements, on their website, review them and pay particular attention to any independent audit information from third party research and accounting firms.  

  5. Invariably, when researching smaller charities, there will come a time when a phone call is necessary.  There are few things more enlightening than actually talking to people about the organizations they are operating.  When talking on the phone make sure you cover the key metrics of stewardship: What % of overall budget is spent on administration? What % is spent on Programs?  How much debt does the charity have? How much does the top salaried individual make? If the representative will not answer these questions, red flag.

  6. Physical visits may be in order and necessary if you find great interest in what a charity is doing but cannot find sufficient information to make the giving decision.  We suggest always getting actual confirmation of a meeting time before venturing on site. Many smaller charities will have variable hours of operations.

  7. Vision trips, if available are a good way to get the in depth scope of what a charity does and how they do it.  Most smaller charities will not have officially arranged vision trips but may be open to individuals visiting an outreach project.  Expect any expenses related to your trip to be on you.

Researching smaller charities can be a daunting task.  But remember, it is your Mite that is in the balance. Knowing what you are giving to is a powerful thing in philanthropy.  It is not easy but like most things, the hard work will pay off in the end.

Scott ToalComment