Many people believe philanthropy is simple and easy to participate in. While it’s true that giving to charity can be simple and easy, there are still some common mistakes that you should be careful to avoid, especially when you’re getting started. Fortunately, though, you can learn from millions of others who have gone before you. Here are some of the mistakes you should avoid as you begin your philanthropy journey.
- Not researching before donating
One of the most common mistakes that philanthropists make is blindly donating money to a cause without doing any research. Not all nonprofit organizations are “created equal,” so you must take the time to find the one that is right for you. For example, some organizations are less efficient than others, which means your money won’t go as far.
Once you’ve decided on a cause to support, be sure to research foundations that are working in that area and choose the one that best aligns with your values and goals. It’s also recommended to support organizations that are transparent about how their funds are used.
- Giving small amounts of money to many organizations
You may have several different causes that you are interested in supporting, but be careful about spreading yourself (and your money) too thin. Instead, consider what’s most important to you, and give more generously to that cause. Giving to numerous organizations means that you make less of an impact in the closest areas to your heart.
Plus, when you stretch yourself thin, you’re more likely to give minimal amounts. If you can, try to avoid giving less than $25 at a time. When you make very small contributions, processing fees eat up most of your donation. And often, when you make a small donation, the organization will spend marketing dollars to reach out to you with the hope you’ll donate again. In the end, small contributions can actually cause nonprofits to lose money, negating your good intentions entirely.
- Not following up after donating
Another common mistake new philanthropists make is that they give and forget to follow up later. If you choose to make a one-time donation to a foundation, you can get away with not following up. However, if you are giving to a nonprofit regularly, it’s essential to evaluate how your contributions are used to ensure it’s in alignment with your goals.
For example, you may want to reconsider donating to a nonprofit organization with a CEO that pockets an excessive amount of money. This figure might change from year to year, so check the latest reports to stay up-to-date. And while it is completely reasonable for nonprofit CEOs and executives to earn a decent salary, you want to ensure that these salaries are consistent with other similar organizations. If you compare nonprofits and find that yours is paying the CEO three times as much as another, you may want to look at alternative options.
If you avoid making these mistakes, you can make the largest impact possible in the areas that mean the most to you. As long as you take your time and do your research, you can make the difference you want to make.