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[Blog] - What to look for when donating to charities


Making donations to charitable organizations is very personal and is handled and savored differently by every donor. For some, it can be a very strategic, methodical, and evaluative process. For many, the donations are more than mere “gifts”, they’re actually investments in causes, organizations, needs, and beneficiaries.

A key component of the donor-decision process is information. Thanks to the internet, seeking the information is relatively easy. Entities like Guidestar, Charity Navigator, Network for Good, and NPcatalyst provide descriptive information about non-profit organizations to help donors make wise donation decisions.

In the case of NPcatalyst, the firm suggests donors take a close look at five core areas as they navigate through the donation decision process. The areas are:

  • Data & Efficiency - Be sure to look at the organization’s finances to determine such things as proper allocation of funds between administration, programs, fundraising, etc. Aspiring donors can utilize Guidestar to review the Form 990s of organizations they're considering, as a means of providing sufficient data for an initial screening, enabling donors with a good look at financial performance.

  • Finance & Fund Development - Non-profits have an obligation to act as responsible stewards in managing their financial resources. This includes compliance with financial requirements, sound accounting principles, and fiscal responsibilities. Since non-profits act as the intermediary between donors and beneficiaries, they have an ethical obligation to ensure proper handling of funds to carry out their missions.

  • Governance - A non-profit’s leadership, represented by its staff and board of directors is responsible for defining the organization’s mission and for providing overall leadership and strategic direction to the organization. Strong boards strive to ensure that their organizations have adequate resources, provide direction for the executive director and key staff and, evaluate their own effectiveness as governing bodies.

  • Human Resources - The ability of an organization to make effective use of the energy, time and talents of its employees and volunteers is essential to accomplish the organization’s mission. Exercising fair and equitable practices that attract and retain qualified volunteers and employees is just one best practice. Nonprofits have an obligation to adhere to all applicable employment laws and to provide a safe and productive work environment.

  • Public Information - Non-profits that provide information to prospective donors and other constituents promote informed and responsible philanthropy. This works to their advantage as donors are better able to make decisions when they can learn a nonprofit’s purpose, who governs it, how it manages its financial resources, whom the nonprofit serves, and what progress it has made toward achieving its mission.


Ideally, donors placing their “investments” with organizations are doing so through strong existing relationships. However, whether donors are already engaged with these organizations or have yet to meet their leaders, taking an in-depth look at these five areas will help solidify the receipt, usage, distribution, and recognition of financial contributions.

At GiftingWishes, we want the donors choosing among the many charities on our website to feel strongly about their donation decisions. We admire the work of these organizations and hope you do too. The financial efficiencies of a number of them have been screened by NPcatalyst, the results of which can be found through a link on the charity's GiftingWishes page.

Thank you for using GiftingWishes to process your online donations. If you have any questions relating to the organizations or the process by which donations are made, we invite you to contact us at any time.

The Gifting Wishes Blog