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Don’t Just Give, Give More: Tips to Stretch Your Holiday Philanthropy
12 / 19 / 2017
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We all hold certain causes close to our hearts, but not all giving is created equal. How can we maximize the impact of our money to support the issues we care most about?

Ever since Giving Tuesday you’ve likely been inundated with requests to help a variety of charities and nonprofits. With so many great causes in need, it can be a hard to determine where to direct your end-of-year giving to ensure it makes the most difference.

Here are 5 tips to make your holiday giving stretch further.

Check out the charity. Before you give, do your research. Does an organization align with your values? Will your money be used the way you envisaged? There is nothing more exasperating than discovering a heartfelt donation may not have reached its full potential due to inefficiency or bad decision-making. There is no doubt the American Red Cross provides essential disaster relief. However, the charity faced controversy in 2016 after a report concluded it had spent 25% of the money raised for earthquake relief in Haiti – a staggering $124 million – on internal expenses.

To research how your favorite charities operate, and how they score on vital things like financial decision-making, accountability, and transparency, visit Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator. You could also visit give.org from the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, which highlights complaints against an organization.

Round up your purchases or donate at checkout. Even if you don’t have a lot to give, making the effort to round up a purchase or add a dollar or two still has an impact.  This Holiday season, Best Buy is collecting donations for St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and stores like J Crew and Walgreens work with various charities to raise money. If you prefer to shop online, Amazon Smile contributes 0.5% of purchases to any of a selection of charities.

Make an impact without spending. Making mindful decisions about where your money goes is one of the most powerful things you can do to bring about positive change. As 2018 begins, you have the power to contribute to causes you care about and divest from those you don’t. Would you like to see your investment dollars fight climate change, protect vulnerable populations, or reduce gender inequality? OpenInvest’s diversified, values-based portfolios combine socially responsible investing with smart financial opportunities. Sign up here and tell us what you care about.

Double your dollars. As the end of the year approaches, many nonprofits have lined up a matching donation for their fundraising efforts. This money acts as an incentive to reach a fundraising goal and allows every dollar to be doubled once the target is reached. Likewise, some employers are willing to match charity donations by staff to double the impact. Contact your Human Resources office and ask if they would consider matching charitable contributions this holiday season.

Give things other than money. Cash donations are always good but there are so many additional things you can do to make a difference.  With 40.6 million people living in poverty in the USA, giving food can have a real impact. Head to Feeding America to find information about food banks in your area. The nonprofit Loved Twice collect gently-used baby clothes for disadvantaged babies, including thousands of onesies, swaddling blankets, and babywear that would otherwise end up in landfills. Old toys in good condition can be donated to hospitals, shelters, or to military families. Hosting a coat drive could also help the homeless or those living in poverty. Lastly, lightly-worn shoes could be gifted to Soles4Souls, a nonprofit social enterprise organization helping entrepreneurs in developing nations start and sustain small businesses.

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