How to Choose Who to Donate To?
Philanthropy and Donors
Relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, resilience and degree of openness: these are the dimensions on which non-profit organizations should be evaluated when they ask for charity.
Supporting an institution with the heart is not incompatible with the search for facts and objective data, and it should be the task of UK organizations to develop in their supporters the need to know more about themselves, to make the bond more solid and lasting.
Non-profit organizations are trusted intermediaries between those who donate (the citizens) and those who receive (the beneficiaries) and it is to them that we entrust the resolution of a problem that affects society (social challenge). In taking charge of the response to that need, the institution accepts to become accountable also through objective data, making the donor feel at ease in the decision to support it.
Here is a list of useful questions to guide the donation, a track for the citizen, more than a prepackaged recipe, an index of inspiration for those who want to support an institution and want clarity, greater involvement, and more in-depth knowledge for an informed donation choice.
As well as donors, organizations are not all the same: each question must be contextualized to the area of activity and the organization that you want to support, in order to understand the actual potential – on which we measure expectations – of each individual organization.
The list is not proposed as exhaustive or deterministic, but shows some of the most important characteristics of the institutions, explored through simple questions.
- Does the organization pursue with its activities, campaigns and projects what is important to me? Do you deal with things that are close to my heart? Does what the institution does affect me? Do I find myself in the words he uses?
- Do I find the methods you use to communicate and achieve your goals adequate?
- Do I share your model of intervention (your idea of how to change things for the better) and your ideas on how to deal with social challenges?
- Does the institution make a difference with its work for a number of subjects that I consider consistent?
- Does what you do need anyone? Does it fulfill its mandate by improving the corner of the world in the way he says he does?
- Does the institution fully know the need it operates on?
- Does it get results, does it measure them and is it able to communicate them?
- When it fails to achieve the expected results, do you tell the donors why? Do you start different paths to achieve those results? Is it up to the challenges?
- Does the institution measure and study the changes produced? From the materials of the institution, from its website (if it has one) or from a direct interaction, it is clear to me what are the activities, services, projects in progress and who does what within these?
Efficiency and Sustainability
- Is the economic-financial dimension of the entity appropriate to what it has to do?
- Do the resources operating within the institution have the necessary skills as well as the will to carry out their tasks well?
- Are the objectives that the institution sets itself commensurate with its ability to collect and manage the donations received?
- Does the institution diversify revenue appropriately to the context in which it works or does the institution’s very existence depend on a few donors? And how is the institution preparing to resist any difficulties?
- Does the structure of your investments reflect the area in which you operate?
- Is the institution flexible to change and does it improve over time?
- Have you updated your way of working and communicating in line with changes in society?
- Has it updated its model of intervention based on the evolution of the need it intends to satisfy?
- Does the institution take risks, invest and find innovative solutions to problems?
- Does the institution question itself, renew itself, train its employees with courses and skills to better face the challenges?
- Do you manage volunteers as a valuable strategic resource?
- Is the governance of the institution adequate for its mandate?
- Is the institution accessible and open to donors? Do you communicate with them through online and offline channels?
- Do you collaborate with other organizations? Does it build bonds and cultivate relationships with the communities and territories in which it operates?
- Do you collect feedback from beneficiaries and more generally from stakeholders? Does it involve its donors to some extent with respect to the mission and individual activities?
- Does it involve all the subjects of its ecosystem, also taking into account different points of view? Is it open to the outside, to international good practices regarding its need that it might be useful to replicate?
Degree of Opening
- Does the institution respond to requests for transparency? Are you registered with any independent platform that makes the information of the entities accessible?
- Does it clearly communicate its governance, the way it operates, the management of the funds, and its core values?
- Does the organization make its constitutional documents, annual financial statements available?
- Do you thank and involve donors after a donation?
- Does it disclose the results obtained with numbers, images, data and videos?
- Does it make its reliability known and make it easily accessible to everyone?
- Does it have people who put their face in it and are ready to tell you everything you need in case of request?
These are just some of the principles with which one can imagine directing a donation: proximity to one’s problems or aspirations, seriousness and incisiveness of communication, effectiveness of action, involvement of stakeholders. Everyone must choose his own, for an increasingly convinced and joyful gift, experienced on the one hand as an act of inspiration and emotion, on the other, as an act of conscious allocation of one’s resources.