Charity is big business. There are adverts in television asking for our support every day. Charities sponsor sporting events and spend vast amounts of money on marketing. We see collection tins everywhere and people stop us in the street for our direct debit details. After every natural disaster, there is inevitably a call for funds. For the kind-hearted, it can be very expensive.
That is why many feel it is usually best to stick to a selection of preferred charities rather than support a large number. It requires developing a strong resilience to other worthwhile causes and cause anxiety in view of the methods used by charity. How do we go about choosing? Here are some tips for deciding which worthy causes you should support.
Decide on the Causes Important To You
Before you choose a charity or charities, it is important to decide which causes to support. You have a wide range of choice: health (physical and mental), overseas development, animal charities, charities for children, charities for older people, domestic abuse, disaster relief, education, disability, sport… The list is endless. Even within these broad groups, you have sub-groups. If you feel that health is your primary concern, do you focus on cancer research, mental illness, gene therapy research, or support for families?
Compare Personal Values
Many people have strong moral or ethical standards. Some will only give to religious charities (such as Salvation Army, Christian Aid and Islamic Relief) and some make a point to avoid them on philosophical grounds. Similarly, others may decide they won’t support charities that engage in animal testing or genetic research, and similarly with those who promote alternative medicines. Animal rights advocates may refuse to donate to certain charities because they feel, though they support the cause, that particular charity uses unhelpful or dubious methods. Decide what you find ethically acceptable and check the relevant charity’s history against your own personal values. Just because you share a cause, it doesn’t mean you share ethical standards.
Look at Their Performance and Results
Since the problems with Kid’s Company in summer 2015, some people have been a little more cautious about the charities they support. Wastage is a big concern for the charity-giving public and the debacle brought to the forefront some concerns about charitable giving that others had been expressing for years. We can’t compare all charities using Kid’s Company as a yardstick as that was an extraordinary case. However, analysing charity performance is vital in demonstrating that money is not wasted. Independent websites such as Charity Choice provide regular reports on 10,000 UK charities about their performance.
Make Sure It Is Legitimate
The UK is one of the most generous countries in the world for giving to charity. This generosity means that there are many opportunities for fraudsters to exploit that generosity and defraud people of their money. Fake charities that have been refused licenses to operate do so under the radar and under the guise of being a charity. It is likely that these unregistered charities fail to give any money to the people it pretends to helps.
Examine Proportion of Donations
Another concern about modern charities is how much of the donations actually get to the causes they are supposed to support. These genuine charities spend a large amount of money on overheads with proportionally very little going into where people believe it is going. Concerns about expenditure have appeared in media reports over the years. As recently as December, The Daily Mail reported that some charities spend less than 50% of their donations on charitable causes. According to the article, 300 of the country’s top charities spend 90% of their donations on running costs, leaving just 10% for the cause. One charity was singled out for spending just 1% of its donations on causes.