Finance

My Favorite Charity

I’m a firm believer in charitable donations and giving back when you’re financially able to do so.  Even donating small amounts makes me appreciate what I have so much more. It’s important to find a charity that you believe in and that spends the money wisely. Charity Navigator is a great tool to use for that purpose.

Over the years, I’ve donated to various organizations: United Way, Animal Humane Society, ASPCA, Second Harvest Heartland, Habitat for Humanity, as well as a few others. These are all great but Donorschoose.org is by far my favorite charity.

Donorschoose.org is an organization that links teachers to donors. Teachers submit projects to be posted on the website, which include a description, purpose, and the funding required. Multiple donors can supply money for a project, similar to crowd sourcing.

This is why it’s one of my favorite organizations:

You know exactly where your money is going. Each project includes a specific outline of all the costs involved. If you don’t like the way the money will be spent or you think the costs are too high for what the project entails, you can find another project to donate to instead.

It’s local. You can make a direct impact to your own neighborhood by choosing a project in a classroom in a nearby school. You also have the option of supporting a project across the country instead if you’d like. I prefer to donate to local schools because I like the impact I’m able to make in my own community.

Even small amounts have a big impact. Just $10 makes a huge difference to these classrooms. And many times there are companies who support projects and offer matching donations, making your money go even further.

Freedom of choice if a project isn’t fully funded.  Instead of the organization automatically applying your donation to another project or keeping it for overhead costs, they instead give you a credit so you can select another project to support. I’ve only had this happen once, but it was nice to be given the opportunity to select another project of my own choosing.

The teachers provide updates once the project is fully funded. It’s heartwarming to read the follow up letter from the teacher (which sometimes includes pictures) and see how you’re making a difference for those kids. There’s also an option to have the kids send you thank you notes, but I opt out of this.

Although unnecessary, fully funding a project on my own is one of my favorite things to do. I also like making a larger than normal contribution to a project that is almost fully funded to wrap it up and, hopefully, make that teacher’s day.

What organizations do you like to donate to and why?

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