Walking through the doors of the tiny back office at the headquarters for In Need Of Diagnosis several years ago, I found myself not only working in the trenches of this valuable organization, but in the unfamiliar position of having to tell someone why they should support INOD’s work. In the process, I learned that many people have trouble choosing organizations to support.
This may be one reason why. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, the total number of nonprofit organizations in the U.S. as of 2013 hovers around the 1.5 million mark. One-and-a-half milion organizations…
I don’t know about you, but that statistic kind of made my head spin.
In a landscape with so many worthy organizations and important causes to be a part of, how do you choose which one to support? Here are some tips to help you choose a nonprofit, whether you’re donating your time, skill, or money to a cause.
Find a personal connection. When my father passed away, my mom and little brother had a particularly difficult time grieving his loss. Someone they came across referred them to New Hope for Kids, and it really made a difference. Many years later, finding myself involved in a fundraising project that selects three local nonprofits to benefit, I suggested New Hope for Kids, and they were selected as one of the nonprofits. Having that personal connection with New Hope’s mission made it easy for me to find opportunities to support their cause.
Ask friends and family about their giving experiences. You may have many friends and family members who actively donate their time or money to a number of causes, from animal rescue to feeding the homeless. Listening to their firsthand experiences in supporting a mission they love could be the deciding factor that helps you choose a nonprofit to support.
Research online. Sites like Charity Navigator, Great Nonprofits, and Guidestar can help you make informed decisions on nonprofits that may be a good fit for you. Locally, the Rollins Philanthropy Center and the Central Florida Foundation provide good starting points for researching nonprofits in Central Florida.
Join volunteer groups. If you don’t already, there are many ways to volunteer time and skill to a variety of organizations. You can regularly volunteer for nonprofits through religious or civic organizations, or you can join an online Meetup group like Step Up For Love, where you can come together with others to volunteer for different nonprofits in the area on a regular basis. You may find that regularly volunteering your time to a mission helps you learn more about it and, in turn, may inspire you to become a lifetime supporter.
These tips and an open mind will hopefully help you pinpoint those special causes that appeal to you, so you may find out where your heart is in the vast nonprofit landscape.