Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Do your homework before you give

Charitable giving is as American as apple pie and foreign imports. The huge majority of American households annually gives something of value to charities, and at an ever-increasing rate. Never mind the surveys showing continued reduced trust in charities since 9/ 11.

An inquiring mind might question whether it matters that people trust the charitable sector—they continue to give. But our recent survey of Minnesotans confirms that there is a strong correlation between trust and giving: 83 percent said their giving is indeed influenced by their general trust in the sector. Just think how philanthropic this country would be if trust levels were high.

They can be. Most nonprofits work hard to be accountable to the public but suffer from the high profile abuses that everyone reads about. That’s why it’s so important to do your homework before you give. You may have some suspicions about the sector as a whole, but if you take advantage of smart giving resources, you can assure yourself that specific nonprofits are trustworthy.

One of the best ways is to see whether they voluntarily participate in outside reviews, and whether they meet accepted standards.

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