Mon Dec 10 2018
How to Choose Local Charities to Donate (& What We Look For)
Here’s how we suggest the best local charities for you to support.
If you’re anything like our friends and family, there are lots of issues that can get you fired up. Whether the topic is the environment or diversity or education, we’ve all got an opinion. Our generation is famously extroverted about our passions, but it’s still hard to support causes that would make the world better. That’s because choosing local charities to donate to and researching which ones closely align with our values is way. too. hard.
Cut through the clutter and choose local charities to donate to with ALMA’s simple subscription service.
There can be a lot of guesswork when it comes to charitable donations, and we want to remove those barriers. Here’s how we choose local charities to donate to, and how you can start to vet organizations yourself before making a contribution.
1. Think like a philanthropist.
Understanding the difference between one-time, reactive giving (charity) and long-term, results-driven advocacy (philanthropy) is a core tenant of choosing local charities to donate to. We look for organizations that exist as a cohort with other nonprofits to solve big problems from multiple angles. For example, our Seeking Shelter fund includes five nonprofits that do everything from offering mobile showers throughout the Bay Area to a homeless shelter for families to a program that counsels youth who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless. Collectively, the organizations in the fund are aimed at preventative, short-term, and long-term support for vulnerable populations in San Francisco.
2. Understand the goal of your philanthropy.
Most of us have some idea of an issue that we want to change — think homelessness in major cities like San Francisco or gender-based discrimination at work. From these large, complex topics, you can go deeper and find short-term, measurable goals for your personal philanthropy. On an individual level, maybe that’s funding meals for 10 people this year, or sponsoring two women to attend a professional development conference. With ALMA, we typically divide each of our causes into three smaller and measurable goals. For example, our Seeking Shelter fund works to end homelessness in San Francisco, and we measure this goal with three strategies:
- Strategy 1: Meet basic needs. By Dec. 31, we aim to provide hygiene kits with basic essentials - like toothbrushes, soap, and deodorant - to 200 people.
- Strategy 2: Find shelter. By Dec. 31, we want to provide warm, nutritious meals for 60 families.
- Strategy 3: Rebuilding lives. By Dec. 31, we aim to provide 30 people with 1-on-1 counseling sessions, including a new outfit, groceries, and a hot meal.
3. Choose the right local charities to donate to.
Now that you know you want to invest in solving a problem with a stated goal, it’s time to find the nonprofit partners who you can then donate to. There’s a lot of information available on organizations that operate on a tax-free system (known as 501(c)(3)), but how do you know which info is actually relevant? At ALMA, we ask three questions to decide which nonprofits to include in a fund:
- Why does this organization exist?
- How does this nonprofit advance its mission?
- What does this nonprofit do?
Broadly, we have most of the information we need from those answers. Additionally, we look for organizations that are smaller, making an impact in local communities, and ready to grow with additional funding.
Read more about how we choose local charities to donate to here.