Texas Living

Charitable Choice: Tips for Choosing a Cause

By Haley Shapley 11.24.15

Nonprofits tend to receive more donations during the holidays than any other time — in fact, many rely on the funds they raise during what’s known as the giving season to finance activities the rest of the year.

Feeling generous? If you’re unsure where to donate, start by visiting CharityNavigator.org, which rates charities based on financial health, accountability, and transparency. The independent charity evaluator offers these tips for holiday giving:

  1. Follow your philanthropic passions. With all the causes out there, there’s bound to be one that resonates with you.
  2. Ensure the charity is efficient, ethical, and effective. Good charities are financially healthy, accountable, and capable of getting results.
  3. Recognize that 100 percent of your gift cannot go toward the charity’s programs. Ideally, 75 percent of a charity’s budget will go toward programs and services.
  4. Share your intentions and make a commitment. Once you find a charity that works for you, become a committed supporter.
  5. Follow your investment. A year later, check back for a progress report to see what your charity has accomplished since you donated.

If you want to take a more active role in giving back, volunteers are needed by a variety of organizations during the holidays. Check VolunteerMatch.org for opportunities near you. You can also set up your own activity with friends and family — perhaps you can collect jackets or knit hats for homeless youth, bake cookies to bring to local firefighters, or make get-well cards to give to patients at a nearby hospital.

Want to give the gift of a set of wheels? Find out how to donate your car to charity.