Donating To Charity: The How to Get Interested and Involved Guide

In today’s society, the donor and the charity have become extremely distant. This is not to say that there is no transaction in place, however, with the colonization of technology, social media, and other mobile tools, it has become easier to give but more inconvenient to participate. In order to get more participation from donors, charities use an array of attraction campaigns, creative ways to get the donors active and emotionally attached to the cause. This does not refer to just company donors or large-sum donors but also includes the $10, $5, and $1 donors. Charities are dependent upon the activeness of those that support their cause, especially financially. However, although foundations try numerous ways to engage their donors, prospective and current, the act of giving may become boring, burdensome or inconvenient for them. So, if you are one of the persons who are aching to donate to a charity or maybe you already are an active donor, let’s find ways to make your donation experience a more interactive and meaningful one.

Research

First, if you are a novice to donating to charities, it is important that you do your research. Find a charity that connects with you, one that you may have a personal connection with, whether through experience or personality. There is an insurmountable number of charities all across the globe, and they are all competing for your attention, your awareness, your time and your donation. How is one to choose to feed one child or the next?  Or to give an education to one girl over the next? It is an impossible and heart-wrenching decision to have to make; however, doing your research carefully can make the decision that much easier to make.

One effective form of research, arguably the most effective, albeit time-consuming, would be to physically visit the offices of the foundations (Video calls or text messaging may be just effective at times).  Connect with the owners and employees. Understand their motive and their goals. Which avenue are they using to get to their goals?  For example, you may wish to donate to a charity foundation and connected with one that helps abused and abandoned animals. How are they helping these animals? Which part of the process of rescue do they invest in the most heavily? Are they rescuing the animals? Are they grooming and feeding the animals? Finding them foster homes? Do these align with the part of animal rescue that sparked your heart into donating? All of these are important questions to answer and to pose to your prospective foundation.

When visiting a charity foundation in person is inconvenient or impossible, do some online research. It is the most convenient as this can be done in the comfort of your own home or office at your leisure. There is also the advantage of being able to scour through multiple charities at a time. At the same time, this may also be a bit time-consuming and inundating, with the endless ads and suggestions being given in just one search phrase. With just one search of ‘donating to charities’, you can be flooded with hundreds of thousands of prospects, all vying for your curious cursor to take a click into its contents. Additionally, Internet consumers rarely search beyond the first page of any search engine results. The first page of search engine results usually includes ads paid for by the foundations and companies, and the most popular foundations, causing smaller and lesser-known foundations to be widely overlooked by the interested public.

Why Should You Donate to Charity?

It is impossible to count all of the reasons why one should get involved in charities, and difficult, at best, to explain the rewarding feeling that accompanies these acts. However, for the sake of the skeptics or the hesitant, here a just a few reasons why donating to charity should be a part of your schedule.

  1. It helps.
    1. It helps a child get the treatments he needs to survive and experience becoming an adult. It helps a mother to experience seeing her daughter off to school to learn. It helps rebuild a home after typhoons and floods have carried with it all of its walls and half of its occupants. Donating to charity helps people that would have otherwise suffered greatly without it. Many people in need to see charities as a sign that even through tragedy there is support, a sign of hope, a sign of life. A donation is also an effective way to show empathy or sympathy toward a person’s situation.
  • It is infectious.

There is a reason why most ads use storytelling as the base of its campaign. It is because it works. Humans are enthralled by the narrative. It allows them to connect emotionally to the character or theme of the story. The same goes for donating to charity. When you tell friends, family or coworkers of your experiences donating, the people you’ve helped, the new perspective that you’ve come to see, it makes them more interested in being a part of what you are involved with. It sets an example to those observing you and encourages them to donate in their own ways or, in the very least, makes them aware of the initiative.

  • It can improve your environment.

Have you ever looked in your neighborhood and wished that some parts were better, that some parts were revived or replenished? For anyone that has had these thoughts creating or donating to a charity can help you improve your own immediate environment. Donating to food drives in your neighborhood can help.  How about community improvement foundations? Giving five dollars to the homeless can help one person momentarily, but giving that five dollars to a charity every so often can help dozens over a longer and more steady period of time.

  • It may just help you live longer.

Numerous studies have shown giving to be healthy for the donor. There are multiple health benefits, especially mentally, that range anywhere from lifting self-esteem and self-worth to lowering depression and blood pressure. These can be beneficial to living a longer and more fulfilling life. There are few things that can be compared to donating to a charity that simultaneously helps the giver and the receiver.

Get Creative with Your Donations

Of course, charities need money, but they also need people. Interaction and networking opportunities are irreplaceable to charities. A monthly donation helps but it can also become a subscription to the donor, instead of a conscious donation. So why not get more creative in your donations.

  1. Buy memorabilia.

Many charities and non-profits have merchandise that their donors can have as keepsakes.  These may come in the form of t-shirts, wristbands, activewear, etc. These are sometimes more important than just a simple monetary donation because of its concurrent capability to be an advertisement to others that their donors may come into contact with while being worn. So, go ahead and invest in some merchandise!

  • Participate in events.

Get in shape at a Fun Run/Walk. Take your kids to enjoy some face painting at a fair. Join a few popup events. These are all great ways to get active in the non-profit and charity communities. Turn your monthly donation into a monthly outing. Participation shows your charity that you are involved in supporting its cause. This also helps to create buzz for your charity.

Donating to charity can be a blast! You can improve yourself and improve the lives of others at the same time. There is no limit to who and how you can help. So, get researching. Get creative. Most importantly, get involved.

Non-Profit Organizations Donations

As ironic as it may seem, non-profits need money. Although they operate as non-profiting entities, they require quite of bit of financial backing to get started and to sustain their efforts. From wages to advertising to supplies, the list of expenses for a non-profit can climb well into six-figures, with most of its resources usually going back into fundraising. However, these foundations still face many challenges raising financial support for their initiatives.

To get a better understanding, let’s look at ways that non-profits are currently receiving funds.

Grants

If you are looking to start a non-profit, the first thing that you will probably look to apply for is a grant. Grants are a terrific boost when starting a new non-profit or initiative. These grants may be attained through the government or privately owned foundations and are intended to be used as a stepping off point for awardees. These usually assist in getting the wheels turning in a non-profit or help kick start a new initiative in an already established non-profit. Although a great avenue to obtain funding for a project, the process to obtain a grant may take an upward of 12 months, from application to deposit of funds. Additionally, the process of applying and being approved for any grant is highly competitive and not guaranteed.

Loans

Loans are another route to obtain funds for non-profits; however, the chances of being approved for a loan may be slim for many non-profit organizations. For any lender, reimbursement of funds is a key determinant in whether or not funds will be distributed.  Non-profits pose a very high risk, as it’s motivation does not reside in making money. Many non-profits, like any business seeking a loan, will have to provide proof of income or revenue as a prerequisite to being approved for a loan. Therefore, many non-profit applicants rely on other sources of income, not only for themselves but also as proof of credit history.

Donations

Donations are the most important aspect of non-profit fundraising. Non-profit organizations live and breathe through donations from corporations and individual donors. It is the lifeline of these kinds of organizations. However, this is also the area that proves most troublesome for non-profit organizations. Often, unless secured with a corporation or regular donors, fundraising can prove to be an almost fruitless endeavor. Therefore, non-profits are almost completely at the whim of their donations. Whether through recurrent donations or one-time donations, this is unequivocally the most effective way to help any non-profit. It also shows belief in their mission and your support in achieving of the organization’s goals.

Outside of funding the initiatives of the organization, non-profits must also reserve funding for staffing, advertisements, housing, and fundraisers. There are numerous unseen expenses that go into upholding non-profit and many founders subsidize these expenses with their own money, which is soon stretched thin across the many needs of the organization.

Thankfully, with the rise of social media and crowdfunding, there are more avenues now than ever through which non-profit organizations can fundraise and receive donations.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding has brought a new wave of life to non-profit organizations, in its donations and fundraising.  Crowdfunding websites, such as GoFundMe, Kickstarter and Indiegogo have become the newest platforms for non-profits to reach out of for donations. This avenue of fundraising helps significantly, especially with smaller or one-time initiatives.  The biggest benefits of online crowdfunding are its time and cost-effectiveness. With a short introduction, a description of the project and the click of a button, a non-profit initiative can be broadcasted to millions of willing patrons, all around the world. There is no upfront payment or tireless man-hours that are required. On the other hand, this is not a long-term solution to a non-profit that may be looking for a more stable source of revenue. Also, there will most likely be a need to do some additional advertising to bring attention to the initiative’s page on the crowdfunding website, as patrons are inundated with countless petitions everyday. Furthermore, even though it takes no time to post your cause, it may take a while to gain the funds needed. To top it all off, if you do not meet your goal, you will not receive any portion of the donations, so budgets must be well within reason when setting a target figure.

Advertising

Many people grapple with the argument of whether or not non-profits should be allowed to advertise for donations and fundraising. No matter which side of the argument you may support, it is undeniable that no one can know about something that they were not made aware of. Likewise, no business, organization, for-profit or non-profit can expect to gain donors without informing the public and potential contributors to its existence and purpose.  Over the years, non-profits have used various means of advertising to get their mission in front of the right eyes and ears. From emails to fun run/walk events to bake sales, nonprofits have enacted the use of countless avenues to bring attention and awareness to their initiatives. Though in recent years, social media has arguably been the most effective form of advertising for non-profit organizations.

Social Media

As demonstrated through the massive success of the ALS Association’s (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig’s disease) Ice Bucket Challenge took over the internet in 2014, social media can have an unbelievable impact in creating widespread awareness about any cause.  The Ice Bucket Challenge, as simple as its concept may have been (pouring a bucket of ice water on the challenged individual on camera), rounded up a mammoth $100 million within the first month of it’s going viral, and exceeded that amount in the days and years to follow. For reference, the ALS Association reported a total of an admirable but incomparable $19 million in donations for the entire year of 2013.

The audience has relocated to platforms like Instagram and Twitter and so non-profit organizations are also forced to reposition themselves where they can be seen. However, these platforms have allowed non-profit organizations to become an influencer and a trend, in all the right ways, from its former place of seeming like a beggar of sorts. It also keeps the non-profit organization relevant in the eyes of its followers and donors.

Even temporary video platforms, such as Snapchat or Instagram stories allows non-profits an opportunity to show rather than tell their daily struggles and achievements.  For no financial expense, these organizations are able to clearly exhibit the impact of their donors’ contributions on the non-profit and subsequently, the impact on society and the individuals involved. This also builds trust between the viewer and the non-profit, as there is a feeling of transparency.

Video advertising has been a leading choice for many non-profits. With one line of Sarah McLachlin’s Angel: “In the arms of the angel…”, one is almost automatically brought back to images of one-eyed cats and seemingly terrified abandoned dogs. Why? As a renowned author, Mary Catherine Bateson summarizes, “The human species thinks in metaphors and learns through stories.” And one thing that all non-profits possess innately is a story. No matter the cause, there is undoubtedly a story that has fueled the inception of the organization or a story of someone that has been impacted by it. Many people are moved through tear-jerking or powerful imagery and video has proven itself as the most effective for non-profits.  However, this form of advertising requires funding, sometimes massive amounts of it.

Therefore, it is empirical to bring awareness to the organizations that not only bring awareness to the problems in our society but also take the extra step to invest in and correct such problems. Non-profit organizations are an essential element in the betterment of our societies. From missionaries in underdeveloped countries to activists peacefully making change one picket fence sign at a time, they all have one goal in mind: making positive change.