Deciding which organisation to give to

This article has been adapted with permission from the original by Kathy Richardson, executive director of Our Community.

There are so many organisations in need of our generosity as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Deciding to give is often much easier than deciding where to give.

Ask yourself - do you want to give personally or would using an intermediary be more effective? Giving personally might allow you to tailor your giving to an individual need, have control over the impact, and allow you to see the benefits.

But charities and community groups often have more efficient systems for making change. Our arms alone would fail to reach many of the communities most in need of help.

Consider whether you want to contribute to a local or global cause. Maybe you would prefer to give to a not-for-profit that is on your street. Or an organisation that is supporting people you have never met.

What also requires - yet more - decision, is whether you want to give with the immediate in mind, or toward long-term response and recovery.

Perhaps you would like to contribute to a mixture. If so, you will need to carve up your personal ‘giving budget’ accordingly. How you distribute your time and funds across the causes you care about is up to you.

Check out the COVID-19 Generosity Register

On the COVID-19 Generosity Register, you can search for a cause that best suits your interests, or for a group working towards a specific goal or COVID-19 response effort.

Look close to home

Consider all the community organisations that make a difference to your life and to the lives of your family and friends. Kindergartens, schools, universities, TAFEs and nearby community groups all contribute to your community's well-being, so consider contributing to them.

As the organisations that matter to you adjust to post COVID-19 reality, check – via phone, email or their website – if they need support and if so, what type of support.

How to evaluate an organisations suitability for your giving

Giving is often a matter of individual preference. Think through these questions to clarify what type of giving makes sense for you.

  • Do you prefer to donate toward specific projects, or do you like to give money to a trusted organisation and leave them to it?

  • Do you prefer to give to organisations mainly run by volunteers, or those with professional staff?

  • Do you prefer to give to small organisations (who often do a lot with a little) or large organisations (who may be better placed to have a big impact)?

  • Do you prefer to support an organisation that is just getting started or a well-established one?

Community organisations use their funds differently. Before you give, it's a good idea to be aware of how an organisation operates. Some questions that you may like to ask yourself include:

  • Do I agree with its programs and goals?

  • Does it achieve worthwhile results?

  • Do I like the way it is run?

  • Does it report its activities and accomplishments transparently?

  • Would my donation make a difference?

  • How does it compare to other organisations of similar size, age and mission?

  • What criteria will I use to decide if the money I contribute is well spent?

  • Will my donation be tax deductible? Does that matter to me?

But, remember frugality does not equate to effectiveness. We all just want our donations to be felt by those who most need them.