Happy SMART Day Everyone!
Our last SMART Living 365 blog post suggested that we all reconsider or “rethink” the Christmas gifting process in a way that enriches both the giver and the receiver. When any of us routinely buys gifts without having a clue what the other needs or wants, we are like sheep falling over a cliff just because those in front of us fall first. If we want our gift to truly enrich someone we care for and love, it is SMART of us to stay awake, aware and conscious to their needs and motivations before making a purchase. But what about a gift or donation to a charity? What about if we want to donate money to a worthy cause in someone’s name? How do we know what is “worthy” and where do we go to find out? There are at least three websites that you might want to consider before making your decision. They are:
GiveWell.org began in 2006 and was created by a group of people who wanted to find charities where their dollars would be best spent and have the biggest impact. Their mission is to identify organizations around the world that are doing good work and then examine them carefully to see how they are accomplishing their work. Their motto is: “Real change for your dollar.” They pride themselves on the rigorous research and accountability they use to examine each charity they recommend.
Charity Navigator.org was launched in 2002 with the goal of helping donors make informed giving decisions and helping well-run charities stand out and be supported. Most of its recommendations are based upon the tax returns of the charities and with a focus on company finances—income and expenses. Still, they are a great starting point for discovering a charity and what work it does in the world.
Philanthropedia is one of the newest websites to begin helping people navigate charities and nonprofits. It was incubated at Stanford Graduate School of business in 2008 and has recently been acquired by GuideStar. Philanthropedia attempts to research charities by “crowd sourcing” (soliciting online expert commentary and reviews to make evaluations) and primarily focuses on northern California charities—although they are spreading around the country and world as the website grows. Their primary criterion is impact of the organization.
Even if you’re not looking for a charity to support this Christmas season, at some time in the future you may want to make sure that you donate money to an organization with lots of potential that you can trust. When that time comes we suggest you check these websites. Their analysis and research may not pull your heartstrings like the website of the individual charities, but you can be certain that their goals to help are in the right place. To be “the change we want to see in the world”, gifting should always be done consciously with the best of intentions.
“I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” – Helen Keller
“Make it a rule…never to lie down at night without being able to say, “I have made one human being at least a little wiser, a little happier or a little better this day.” – Charles Kingsley
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