End of Year Giving with Impact and Smarts

LU girl with presents‘Tis the season for shopping, caroling, making cookies, spinning dreidels, eating cookies, lighting candles, and wading through the mountain of year-end donation requests from every nonprofit you have come in contact with in the last twenty years.

It is estimated that nonprofits receive a whopping 45% of their annual contributions at this time of year. This may be attributed to the generosity of the holiday season or a run to make a last-minute tax deduction. Whatever the case, it is a critical time of year for the work of nonprofit organizations.

We are a generous nation, but giving is a very personal decision. These days, it is not hard to be an informed giver thanks to the myriad of resources available on the web. When the “ask” comes, here are some things to think about:

  1. How is the “ask” coming to you? E-mail is certainly the cheapest for nonprofits followed by direct mail. If a telemarketer is calling and if the callers are not volunteers, more of your donation may be going to the fundraising costs than to the cause itself.
  2. Know who you are giving to and double-check. Some nonprofit names sound very much alike but one’s effectiveness may pale in comparison to the other.
  3. Do they have the nonprofit essentials in place? This would include 501(c) (3) status, financial records, and management documentation of the organization made available to donors.

Now, I would be a very sad excuse for a fundraiser if I did not take this opportunity to tell you that United Way of Wyandotte County is a very wise investment for your last gift of 2015, and here’s why:

  1. We do the “ask” and then fund over 50 programs impacting lives in Wyandotte County. UWWC retains under 13 cents of every dollar for administrative and fundraising costs (BBB standard is that no more than 35% is spent on fundraising alone.)
  2. Allocation teams of community volunteers have examined the 34 agencies and selected their programs to ensure the work is being done to improve people’s lives through our Community Impact Plan.
  3. Before being considered for UWWC allocations, agencies must first become United Way Certified which requires verification of 501 (c) (3) status, financial stability, and other documentation supporting the organization’s management practices.

I invite and encourage you to check us out on our website. A great resource for any charitable contribution is Charity Navigator where you will find information about UWWC and nonprofits across the country as well as the Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors which goes into more detail.

So there you are. Be generous. But be smart about it. And if your holiday to-do list leaves you short on time to do charity research, you can give quickly with confidence to United Way and get back to decking the halls and wrestling tiny light bulbs.

This blog was written by former staff member Joy Richardson and the original version appeared December 2014.


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