4 Ways To Research A Charity Before You Give

Giving to charity is a wonderful thing that people enjoy doing, but making sure that the money is going to go to good use, is another story. While donating to a cause that you care about is incredibly kind and generous, you always want to do some research on the charity you want to give to before sending the money, just to be safe. Because there are so many millions of charities set up these days, some of them might not actually be what they say they are.

These 4 tools will help you to confirm that the charity you wish to donate to is worthy of the cause.

 

CharityNavigator.org

Find top-rated charities in every field. Look for organizations that have received a four star rating for consecutive years. Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. By guiding intelligent giving, it aims to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges.

CharityWatch.org

The official site of the American Philanthropic Institute allows anyone to search for information (good and bad) on hundreds of charities. CharityWatch does not merely repeat what a charity reports using simplistic or automated formulas. It dives deep to let you know how efficiently a charity will use your donation to fund the programs you want to support. CharityWatch also exposes nonprofit abuses and advocates for your interests as a donor.

BBB.org

The Better Business Bureau’s mission is to be the leader in advancing marketplace trust. Search the Better Business Bureau’s site to research international and domestic charities and learn which ones are accredited by the BBB.

Google.com

Search online for news and reviews of a charity. Keep in mind that on the internet anyone can say anything for any reason. Always consider the source, taking no claim (positive or negative) seriously unless backed by factual evidence.

Ways to Give Back Without Spending Any Money

It would be nice if we could all donate large amounts to charity as often as we wanted to, but that isn’t the reality that we live in. Lack of funds often plays into our inability to consistently give back to our communities, but that is about to change! This list provides many different ways that you can give back without spending any money at all!

Give Time

Most organizations are always looking for extra help. Donating time is a great way to give back to a cause or non-profit. For example, check out your local food bank and ask if they need people to help sort donations and pack boxes or bags for recipients.

Give Phone Calls

Helping to raise funds, or reaching out to members to share news and updates via phone calls is a very common practice for charitable organizations. Spending a few hours on the phone is a great way to give back especially if you enjoy talking on the phone!

Give your Expertise

Everyone has a talent they can share. Whether you’re an artist who paints murals, a web designer who can build a website for a non-profit, a Spanish speaker who could teach a class, or something else, your unique talents can help. Make a list of things you can offer including hobbies, talents, or your skill set for your job. You can then reach out to local organizations and see how your skills can help.

Give as a Group

Looking for a team building exercise or an activity for a group? Consider giving back. Whether it’s a school group, co-workers, or a group of friends and family it can be a wonderful way to bond or get to know each other. How about a group trip to help clean up your nearest beach? Or bringing your friends to spend some time at a senior home. It could really brighten someones day!

Give Used Clothing, Furniture, and Housewares

Not only is donating used goods a tax-deductible donation (check It’sDeductible for the value of your donations), but it’s also a great way to reduce the clutter in your home allowing you more space (and time) for other volunteer efforts!

Give with a Click or Purchase

Many companies are now offering ways to give back without having to spend. Whether it’s ‘liking’ them on Facebook, using their coupons for purchases you were already planning to make, or using a special link for your purchases you can give back by buying things you already planned to purchase!

Give your TV time

The average American watches 3 hours of TV/screen time a day. Giving up even half that time will allow you some time to give back. Many non-profits offer ‘jobs’ you can even do from home!

Give Vegetables

If you grow your own garden consider giving fresh veggies to your local food bank. If you don’t have gardening space or know-how look for local community gardens or even consider starting one at your child’s school.

Give while Remodeling

Renovating or upgrading your home? Consider donating used but working appliances, moldings, doors, etc. to your local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. They sell the old pieces for a profit which helps them build more homes.

Give for Free

If you have a passion for couponing consider looking for freebie deals at your local stores. Spending a little time seeking them out will allow you to give in a big way to your local food banks and charities. If you receive freebies from your job you can also give these items to local charities.

While giving back may mean spending a little extra time or thought, it is incredibly rewarding and well worth the ‘expense.’ What are some ways you give back that don’t involve monetary donations?

Donate wisely by using Charity Navigator

 

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Making charitable donations to worthy causes is a relatively simple way to help those in need, or to give back to a community. Many people have a favorite charity with whom the collaborate, volunteer, and/or donate money to regularly. Unfortunately, many more neglect to properly search for a cause that meets their requirements and expectations. Far too many organizations market themselves as charitable, only to be revealed as scams after further research. That’s why it falls upon the giver to do their research before choosing to contribute to a cause. Fortunately, one website has made this a lot easier.

Charity Navigator has positioned itself as a watchdog in the philanthropic community. Founded in 2001, it has become the country’s largest and most widely used evaluator of charities. It uses an objective, numbers-based system to assess over 8,000 of America’s charitable organizations. Charity Navigator’s evaluation system focuses on two central factors: the charity’s financial health and its accountability and transparency. It also focuses on the organization’s consistency across times, and its level of commitment to good governance. It uses a mathematical formula to calculate a score on a scale of 0-100, where 100 is the best. Charity Navigator accepts no funding from the organizations it evaluates, and is completely free to use.

It’s incredibly important to make sure that the charity you’re choosing to donate to uses your money wisely. It is far too common for charities to devote huge portions of their budget to administrative costs–which often translates to the CEO and other top executives paying themselves handsomely with money that could have gone directly to the cause. And some of the most highly-rated causes on Charity Navigator are not the best known: India Development and Relief Fund (score: 99.75) and Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide (score: 98.93) are two such organizations that lack renown but more than make up for it in competence.

In addition to identifying lesser-known charities, the website can also be used to reevaluate your opinion of established charities. Charity Navigator’s Watchlist compiles organizations that have engaged in conduct that may affect a donor’s decision to support that charity. The Clinton Foundation was placed on the list in March of 2015 after major news outlets raised questions about whether corporations and foreign governments had used donations to the charity to curry favor with then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The foundation was removed from the list in December, after it provided publicly accessible information regarding their tax forms over the last few years.

Though the controversy has subsided, the Clinton Foundation saga has taught us an important lesson about giving: it is essential to do your research. Giving is great, but giving smartly is better. Look up your charity of choice on Charity Navigator here: http://www.charitynavigator.org/

 

Getting Involved with The National Multiple Sclerosis Society

MS ribbonMultiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that interrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Symptoms range from numbness and tingling to blindness and paralysis. The progress, severity and specific symptoms of MS in any one person cannot yet be predicted, but advances in research and treatment are moving us closer to a world free of MS. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease.

The National MS Society mobilizes people and resources to drive research for a cure and to address the challenges of everyone affected by MS. To fulfill this mission, the Society funds cutting-edge research, drives change through advocacy, facilitates professional education, collaborates with MS organizations around the world, and provides programs and services designed to help people with MS and their families move their lives forward.

To move us closer to creating a world free of MS, last year alone, the Society invested nearly $50 million to support more than 380 new and ongoing research projects around the world while providing program services to over one million people.

If you are looking for ways to get involved, participate in one of the numerous fundraising events that are happening all over the US!

Walk MS connects people living with MS and those who care about them. When you participate in community events like this one, the funds you raise give hope to the more than 2.3 million people living with MS worldwide. Fundraising walks have been going on since 1988 and to date have raised more than $870 million to support life changing programs and cutting-edge research.

There are walks and rides happening throughout the year as well as other events such as The Dallas On The Move Luncheon. The National Multiple Sclerosis Society will host the 9th Annual On the Move Luncheon at the Ritz-Carlton Dallas on Friday, November 13th, from 11:00am to 1:00pm. The annual luncheon, which raises funds and awareness for multiple sclerosis, will feature Keynote Speaker Jason DaSilva, Artist and Filmmaker, who at the age of 25 was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.

Money raised at this year’s events will support research progress in many areas, moving us closer to our ultimate goal of a world without MS!

The American Cancer Society: Fighting Childhood Cancer

The American Cancer Society is actively fighting cancer that develops in children through a variety of different ways – research being one of the most essential. The Society has dozens of full-time researchers and external grantees who actively watch the state of childhood cancer, discovering effective treatments and monitoring various ways to improve upon existing ones in order to fully understand how and why certain cancers develop at such a young age.

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Preventing, detecting, and treating are the three main goals of the American Cancer Society’s full-time research staff catered to childhood cancer. According to their website, “The Society’s Surveillance and Health Services Research program analyzes data on childhood cancers on an annual basis as part of its Cancer Facts and Figures report,” (Cancer.org). Some of the main findings in the 2015 report include:

  • An estimated 10,380 new cases of cancer will be diagnosed in 2015
  • An estimated 1,250 deaths will occur among children up to 14 years old
  • Mortality rates for childhood cancer (birth to 14 years old) have declined by 67% over the past four decades

Though there have been vast improvements in research methods, preventing, treating, and detecting cancer in children for the last couple of decades, there are still many challenges on the road ahead towards fighting these critical diseases.

The American Cancer Society produced a special report on childhood cancer in the year 2014, which summarizes both the challenges and progress made in fighting childhood cancers. According to their website, “The report points out that although advances in treatment of childhood cancer have saved many lives over recent decades, there has been less progress made in understanding the causes and prevention of childhood and adolescent cancers,” (Cancer.org).

The Society is dedicated to research and health professional training associated with improving the quality of life of children who have cancer, as well as their loved ones who are also affected by it. The Society has partnered with the National Palliative Care Research Center to help fund various research mechanisms and will continue to support long-standing initiatives catered to childhood cancer research.

The American Heart Association: Saving Lives One Heart at a Time

Stephen GeriKnown as the nation’s largest and oldest volunteer organization that concentrates on fighting heart disease and stroke, the American Heart Association was founded by six cardiologists in 1924 and now contains almost 23 million supporters and volunteers. The AHA is one of the biggest leaders in regard to funding research, providing medical tools and information to help save lives, and fighting for greater overall health policies, many of which have been implemented across the nation.

Heart disease is the number 1 cause of all deaths in the world, which is the primary reason why the American Heart Association is extremely important throughout our communities. Strokes are the second leading cause of death globally, which is why the AHA established the American Stroke Association in 1997, honing in on strokes in more detail. Annually, heart disease and strokes kill around 787,000 Americans – a number that is far too large to be ignored. The AHA has also noted that cardiovascular disease affects over 33% of all adult Americans.

Stephen GeriNationally, the American Heart Association has 156 offices and over 3,000 employees. Originally located in New York, its national headquarters moved to Dallas in 1975. The nonprofit is most widely recognized for providing public health education to help raise awareness of heart disease and establish best healthy heart practices. Not only does the AHA provide treatment guidelines to healthcare professionals in order to improve overall heart care across the
nation, but they are also the nation’s number one leader in CPR education training.

One of the AHA’s main goals is to raise awareness that heart disease and stroke is a major problem in our country  – but that they can be prevented. By not smoking, maintaining a healthy body weight, staying active regularly, eating well, and controlling cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar, your heart’s risk for these diseases can be greatly reduced.

For more information about the American Heart Association, please visit their website here, and remember to spread awareness so that the ones you love, and the nation as a whole, can be saved one heart at a time

Fundraising for Charity

Stephen Geri Charity ideasRaising money for a specific cause or charity can be more difficult than you may think – that’s why it’s important to go about fundraising in a creative way. When fundraising is implemented creatively, you can avoid the hassle that comes with boring, repetitive fundraising techniques that most people don’t get too thrilled about. Instead, help people get motivated to donate by engaging in a fun activity within the community. Here are a few ideas of how you can set up a unique fundraiser for a great cause:

First, get the children involved. Let’s face it – people of all ages become inspired when they see young children participating in an event for charity. Whether it’s a dance recital, a play, or a sports event, parents and other donors will undoubtedly be influenced to support their children and help raise money for the cause.

Next, organizing a competition is a great way to raise money for a charity – just make sure you have everything planned out beforehand. There are plenty of options to choose from here – you can host a fashion show, a pie-eating competition, or even a basketball shooting competition in your community that everyone will want to participate in. These types of events not only get people excited to participate in, but they raise the level of community involvement and bring everyone together.

Third, host a dance-a-thon – because who wouldn’t want to go dancing for charity? The way you market this event is key because there are very different types of people for your target audience. You can speak towards couples, dance teams, athletic teams, elderly men and women, and children alike to give them each a different experience to look forward to in order to raise money for a great charity.Stephen Geri fundraising ideas

Lastly, we live in an age where people are aware of the importance of health and fitness, and are increasingly becoming involved with various fitness events – so use one for a fundraiser! Not only will you be supporting a good cause, but people will want to be involved with an event that benefits their own body and brings people together through good health. So, set up a 5K within your town, or host a yoga or zumba fitness class outside in a park – there are plenty of options you can use here, and community member will love it!

For more information on how to start a fundraising for a nonprofit organization, please read this article published on Udemyblog.com

 

About ACTS Missions

Stephen Geri ACTS logoACTS Missions is a nonprofit organization dedicated to spreading the word of God among Catholic communities through various retreats around the world. The ACTS values statement reads as follows:

  • Honor God in everything we do
  • Build relationships based on trust & respect
  • With a servant’s heart, maintain integrity & excellence in leadership programs, services and retreats

These values incorporate the heart of a servant leader as well as charisms of the Holy Spirit and working well alongside others.

ACTS Missions aims to unite Catholics across the globe through retreats that have helped men, women, children, teens, Catholics, and non-Catholics, both nationally and internationally through the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. The Cursillo retreat was the first Mission retreat that began in Spain between WWI and WWII. It’s popularity quickly grew as participants noted the profound effect that spiritual enlightenment has on individuals.

Stephen Geri ACTSThree of the men who were part of the initial spread of the Cursillo retreat into the United States founded ACTS, their names were Ed Courtney, Joe Hayes, and Marty Sablik. The experience these men had as participants of the Cursillo retreat brought them a long-lasting friendship and had ideas to improve the retreat with more relevance toward the parish. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Ed though of the main themes that the Mission should represent: Adoration, Community, Theology, and Service, coming up with the name ACTS.

ACTS’ first retreat occurred in 1987 in the San Antonio Archdiocese. Soon, 15 parishes emerged and included the ACTS program. By 1997, ACTS Missions became a 501(c)3 non-profit organization and was eligible to maintain the ACTS retreated wherever needed. Larry Lopez and Tony Deosdade started ACTS Missions from the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas after having a great experience with their own retreats. Now, ACTS can be found in 22 states in the U.S., along with Mexico, Canada, Honduras, England, and South Africa.

For more information about ACTS Missions, please visit their official website here.

 

About Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts of the United State of America advocates strong leadership opportunities for girls growing up. This program is influential in many ways, especially when it comes to advocating for important issues in our society.

stephen geri photo of girl scouts

To begin with, Girl Scouts encourages healthy living opportunities for girls. By increasing access to outdoor activities, girls learn from a young age to be connected with nature and to familiarize themselves with outdoor survival skills. In addition to educating young girls about the importance of spending time outside, the program reduces bullying and relational aggression in attempts to promote and create healthy relationship skills.

Girl Scouts also promotes economic opportunities and teaches girls the importance of gender equality. Through activities and educational events, Girl Scouts increases girls’ involvement with engineering, math, technology, and science. It also strengthens girls’ financial literacy and entrepreneurial skills by giving them the confidence that they can learn and excel in everything they do. In addition, Girl Scouts promotes a global voice for all girls by fostering global citizenship and supports a strong nonprofit community and girl scout experience, teaching girls from a young age the importance of helping those in need.

stephen geri girl scouts logo

Girl Scouts was founded by Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low in Savannah, Georgia on March 12th, 1912, when she assembled 18 girls into a meeting. At the meeting, Daisy spoke about her thoughts on how girls should be given the opportunity to develop spiritually, mentally, and physically without being isolated in at-home environments. A few years later, Daisy’s dream became an organization centered around the needs for young girls and is now part of an even larger organization that more than 59 million women in the United States has been a part of.

For more information about the Girl Scouts and why you should donate to this well-established nonprofit organization, check out their official website here and learn more about the history of Girl Scouts.

Donating to Charity

The idea of donations has become a blanket term, a hollow gesture that umbrellas a muddled confusion of what is right and wrong. Some people believe that donating is simply throwing money into a hat. Before we continue I want to establish the fact that donations are not simply based in currency. Donating means contributing, be it our time, our energy, and yes, sometimes even a few of our dollars.

stephen geri

There is a hesitance when it comes to donating to charity. There is a fear that large corporate organizations will cypher the money given to them, and filter said cash flow straight into their pockets. No one wants to feel like they’ve been played, especially when it comes to doing what they feel is right. Some people believe in a socio-economical darwinism, believe that charitable handouts only weaken the capitalistic agenda. It’s a heavy handed argument, slightly to the right, but even such has its own reasoning.

Although both of these avenues of thought can be explored, and dissected into moral and ethical opinion, we should not let negative instances outweigh the positive outcomes of donating to charity. Donating, and contributing to charitable organizations is a good thing.

Not only does it help the recipients of any given charity, but it also serves as a testament to the compassion of the human spirit. In moments of crisis, and natural disaster, when the unpredictable blows the top off a volcano in chile, or earthquakes ravage a village in Nepal – we are called upon to act. Not giving your time, or energy, or money does not make you a bad person by any means. It doesn’t mean that you lack compassion or that you’re oblivious to the world around you. It is your own choosing. However, the belief that giving to charity is wrong, is a poisonous thought, and an opinion I hope to sway. Especially when one has the privilege, or rather, opportunity, to choose whether or not to donate, the answer is simple. Here are a few benefits that come from charitable donations, be it time or money:

  1. It circulates money into an economy that needs to constantly have it’s revenue cogs turning.
  2. We have the ability, and resources to provide for those less fortunate
  3. Donations are tax-deductible, and benefits a companies image.
  4. Donating is contagious. When one person helps out, it inspires others to do the same.
  5. Even the smallest contributions can make large ripples.
  6. It brings a sense of self importance, and appreciation. It makes us feel good.
  7. It’s a step in the direction of where we want to be. A united people.
  8. It’s in our nature.