Key Things a Donor Should Consider When Choosing a Philanthropic Organization

If you’re looking to get involved with philanthropic giving this year, first and foremost you should take the time to seek out organizations whose values reflect your own. Supporting a cause close to your heart can be extremely rewarding. Your generosity, kindness and commitment to providing ongoing support for a charitable organization can have a lasting impact on current and future generations.

Whether you want to support a cause personally or on behalf of your company, being strategic about selecting an appropriate organization allows you to make a beneficial and lasting contribution. Here are some key things a donor should consider when choosing a philanthropic organization:

Personal Values and Philanthropic Goals

One of the first things to consider when choosing a philanthropic organization and determining what your gift will be is asking whether the organization espouses the values that are most important to you. What values do you cherish that they also promote? Are you in alignment with the organization’s message? Ask yourself if you would be proud to tell your children about this cause, why it’s important to support this cause and raise awareness about their message. Answering these questions can help you decide which organization will receive most or all of your gift in any given year.

Commitment to the Cause

How committed is the organization to driving meaningful and measurable change for their cause? You want to donate to organizations that are committed to their mission and are working hard to make a difference in the world- not only on paper, but also in measurable real world results.

Measuring commitment isn’t always easy but you can look for certain signs and characteristics, such as a well-organized team of board members, ongoing activities in the community, requests for volunteer assistance and websites or marketing materials promoting the cause. You need to seek out organizations that have taken the time to map out a thoughtful and well-defined mission and a plan on how to achieve those goals. Also, it is important to understand the organization’s operating efficiency, specifically what percentage of dollars actually makes it to the services beneficiaries.

Board members, volunteers and contributors to the organization should have a relentless drive to improve and expand the mission where it matters most — to those that will be impacted by their efforts. Ultimately, you want to seek out organizations that have a passionate and caring team behind them, a group of people that care about the organization from the heart and have the skills, dedication and support to fulfill their mission.

Evaluating Need

Determining level of need can be difficult since ‘need’ is not always easy to quantify. We can, however, learn about success stories from various types of donations and see if the organization has set up any type of fund or program for a certain group. Whether it is a student or a wounded soldier, we want to understand first hand the impact our gift has and if it has truly met the intended objectives.

For example, one of the causes the Greenstein Foundation supports is Brothers for Life. We’ve taken the time to meet not only the leaders of the organization, but also many of the wounded Israeli soldiers whose lives have been improved through Brothers for Life. We have examined the business model and long term viability and sustainability. In doing so, we’ve been able to learn firsthand about their mission and really see how they are having an impact on the community. We also evaluate how a continued or expanded gift in the future could allow the organization to drive change on an even larger scale.

Choosing a philanthropic organization to donate to or support as part of your own philanthropic mission can take some time. You will want to seek out organizations that have a well-defined mission and have values that are aligned with your own. Ultimately, you want to make your gift matter, and passively or blindly writing a check will be far less rewarding than seeing firsthand how the organization is making an impact in the community. When choosing an organization to support, remember to look for measurable signs of progress, so you can rest assured that your gift is actively driving change for the greater good of the community.