How to Evaluate Charities for Year End Giving

At this time of year, many people are rushing to complete their year-end giving.  For some, they’ve already completed their giving to their local church and favorite ministries, and they still have some additional giving to do.

How do you evaluate what is a worthy charity?

One good form of evaluation is from a trusted friend:  ask them who they support and why.  Peer evaluation is one of the best and most trusted.

One basic form of evaluation:  look to see if the charity you are considering is listed as “an efficient” charity by Charity Navigator.  Or look to see if they have financial accountability and are listed at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

Another form of evaluation:  call a Christian community foundation (Like www.servantchristian.com) and ask them for advice.  Typically, a Christian community foundation will be deeply involved in the community and have a deep awareness of charities in the community.

Of course, the best form of evaluation:  know yourself and your passions.  From there, conduct a field trip of charities that match your interests.

Certainly, at this time of year, there may not be time to conduct your own evaluation so consider opening a donor advised fund.  A donor advised fund can be set up online and in a few minutes.  With a donor advised fund, the contribution is made in 2010, but the donor still keeps the right to recommend where the distributions will go in 2011 and beyond.  It is give now, deduct now and distribute later.

From there, endeavor in 2011 to take involve your family and take that field trip.  It’s a great family project for 2011.

William F. High is the President of the Servant Christian Community Foundation (www.servantchristian.com).  Servant’s mission is to inspire, teach and facilitate revolutionary biblical generosity.  He may be reached at whigh@servantchristian.com.

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