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The end of the year is a common time for charitable giving. For many, the question isn’t whether to give, but how to designate a gift to have a significant impact on the community.

In central Ohio, there are hundreds of non-profit organizations helping to make Columbus the city it is today.  The first step in making sure your donation makes an impact is to research organizations. This may sound like a daunting task, but is not as difficult or as time-consuming as you might imagine.  Take advantage of information from organizations like Guidestar, Charity Navigator, and the Better Business Bureau. These are widely trusted sources for information about non-profit organizations across the United States. You can search by cause and location to find local non-profits that align with your giving objectives.

Now that you have the names of organizations that interest you, it’s time to learn more about the charity you plan to support. Determine whether the services provided will make the community a better place.  Is the charity sincerely making a difference in our society? Once you have researched the organization, consider the following points before you sign the check:

  • Determine whether the organization is mission-driven.
  • Make sure it fiscally sound.
  • Review the Agency website.
  • Look into speaking with the organization’s CEO or staff.
  • Tour the organization or participate in a volunteer activity to learn first-hand about the organization.
  • Consider what is important to you, such as what your passion is and what motivates you as a donor.
  • Find out whether the organization has a good standing in the community.
  • Determine what percentage of your gift will pay for overhead.

Once you have made your decision, remember to trust your instincts.  Take a moment to examine whether the charity you have selected has secured future funding for the clients they represent.  Investigate whether the charity offers a gift-matching program or has an ongoing endowment campaign.  If the organization has implemented a gift-matching program, this can be enticing to the donor and it presents an opportunity to amplify year-end gifts of cash, checks, securities to endowment funds, or provisions in an estate plan.

Remember: Take time to research the charity you have selected. Some work in the beginning could save you time, but more importantly it could allow your gift to impact many lives of in our community.