The holidays are just around the corner, and while I know that means different things for a lot of different people, there is a tradition that almost every every holiday shares: the idea of charity.
Now, there are a couple different definitions of the word charity. It can mean looking at someone or something with a degree of tolerance. It also means giving someone help that they may need of your own free will. And of course, the definition most people think of first, an organization that collects money for those in need.
No matter what your definition, charity is a good, noble thing. And while anytime is a good time to help someone in need, there’s no time like the present.
Still, choosing a charity is no easy task, especially if you’re a successful business owner looking to give a little something back.
Here are a few tips to help make sure that you choose the right charity for your business.
Keep It In The Family
There are countless charities out there, which makes it hard for someone unfamiliar with the territory to know where to begin. I suggest doing what comes the most natural. Ask your friends, partners and coworkers for suggestions. A recommended charity is always preferable, it cuts down on the leg work you have to do and helps you avoid the risk of giving money to strangers who may or may not be on the level.
If you don’t find a charity through a trusted friend, then it’s time to hit the books. Like I mentioned before, finding the right charity can be hard work, but well worth the effort. While you can find any number of charities with a simple web search, the real work comes after you’ve made a list of possible organizations to work with. Before moving forward make sure you know exactly what each group on your list does and where they are located. There are some less than honest organizations out there and the last thing you want is to be taken advantage of.
If you have questions about the legitimacy of a charity, your first move is to consult the IRS. Sounds scary, I know. Why would anyone want to voluntarily deal with the IRS? Because the IRS keeps a list of every tax exempt organization, that’s why. If they aren’t on the list, that’s a good sign that there’s something askew.
The In’s And Out’s
Every charity deals with problems in their own way. Look at the charities on your list and find out everything you can about how they attack their niche problem. You may find that one organization’s method appeals to you more than another.
The best way to find out how a charity operates and how much actual good they are going to do with your money is to get involved. This can mean anything from paying a visit to their offices to donating some of your free time. Volunteering at a prospective charity is also a great way for you to get a sense of how organized and efficient the organization is.
Yes, the point of charity is giving, and a lot of charitable organizations out there do a great job of pulling at the heart strings. Of course they do, that’s what make your want to give. But the safety of your business should be a top priority. Avoid giving out personal info like back account or credit card numbers, and never give cash.
This is easier than you may think. Point your browser to GuideStar.org, the premier source for information on charitable organizations. Sites like GuideStar will help you make informed decisions so that you know your money is going to the people who you want it to.