Every year right around the commencement of the holiday season we take a look at charitable giving. Inspired by our founder Barry T. Chouinard, a very generous role model indeed, we are keen to give. Being a small business, we are particular about how and where we do our charitable giving.
We love to give locally. Giving is often most fulfilling when done in person (this might sound selfish, but it feels great to be able to see the immediate result of one’s good deeds); this is not always possible. Time is a huge factor, especially around the holidays, so many of us give in other ways.
Some of these other ways are not always as easy to track, so we thought we’d take a look at a few of the more popular online hubs for charitable giving: Charity Watch, GiveWell, and Charity Navigator. All have very rigorous criteria in place for identifying and evaluating charities. Each of these organizations has provided considerable support of the needy.
Charity Navigator lets you browse among highly rated charitable organizations by category. Animals, humanities, education, environment, health, human services, international, public benefit, and religion. It lists charitable organizations that are trending right now – from Wounded Warrior Project and Heifer Project International to World Wildlife Fund and Save the Children. There is something for everyone here.
Charity Watch does not have the greatest website, but “Of the approximately six hundred charities currently rated by CharityWatch, only a select number qualify for our listing of Top-Rated charities based on our rigorous analysis.” You can see their Charity Rating Criteria here.
GiveWell also had a grading system and lists only its favorite organizations that received the highest marks.
Unfortunately, each of these charity hubs has also done a considerable amount of mud-slinging at other charitable organizations – which does not seem very charitable at all. But like anything good and like everything published online, more research is warranted. GuideStar.org provides detailed information about every single IRS-registered nonprofit organization here, which might be a good place to start.
But please do not be discouraged from giving, and giving as generously as you can. If you are hesitant about giving online, volunteer! Genxfinance.com gives us this on the benefits regular volunteering:
You’ll find the consistent presence of a regular service time to be a calming, stabilizing force in your life, and you’ll find yourself looking forward to seeing those individuals that you work with. Volunteering your time can heighten your levels of satisfaction, and you can be proud of the effort you put into giving back to your community. Service opportunities may also be a great way to connect with friends and family members, as you can all go volunteer at an organization together — which maximizes your satisfaction and, more importantly, your impact. (http://genxfinance.com/giving-to-charity-time-vs-money/)
This holiday season, when it comes to charitable giving we encourage you to follow your passions, do a little bit of research, make a commitment, and share the love! That is what the holiday spirit is all about.