Find Your Cause
There are so many worthy causes in the world and so many ways to help others that picking a cause to fundraise for can seem very overwhelming. Many people have the easiest time picking a cause that is personal to them. For example, if they or someone they know has survived cancer, or if they love their dog more than anything else in the world. Picking a cause you care about is an important step in fundraising because your community can tell when your heart isn’t in something. If you are passionate about a cause, you can become a huge spokesperson and advocate and really make a difference by activating your community around a common goal.
Once you have determined the type of cause you want to support-- support kids, helping end hunger, animal rescue, cancer research, etc. -- you can choose from a huge number of charities that are actively working towards that cause. Picking between charities that do similar work can be a challenge. Here are a few ideas for how to vet charities and make sure that your communities fundraising will be used in the way that you want:
501 C3 financial disclosures
All registered charities in the United States are mandated to provide financial disclosures, and these forms should be easily found on a charities website, along with other information, such as percent of funds spent on programs or research, vs overhead. Most charities will have an “about us” or “financial information” section from the homepage. Those are good places to start. Regulations by country can vary, but most countries have some type of registration and disclosure mandates for charity organizations.
Charity rating organizations
There are a number of websites that allow you to easily compare ratings and information across a number of charities, including Charity Navigator, Guidestar and Charity Watch. Each of these websites have their own method of rating the effectiveness and efficiency of charities that can include measures such as financial transparency, % of funds used for programs vs fundraising/overhead, growth over time, etc. There is no one method of evaluating charities that will work for every cause. For example, a local charity that is focused on directly providing services such as food to a local population will likely have a lower percentage of overhead then a national organization working to raise awareness and conduct research on a complex health issue.
Your best friend Google
You can find out a huge amount of information on a charity by spending a bit of time searching for news stories, feedback, reports and other information.
Reaching out to the Charity
Most charities are more than happy to tell you all about the work that they are doing to help their cause. People who work for charities tend to be enthusiastic and committed, and we love answering questions. With the increase in influencer fundraisers, many charities now have a dedicated person who helps people who are interested in crowdfunding, or running charity streams. You can start by emailing the basic “contact us” link that should be found on almost any cause and ask to be connected to someone who can answer questions about setting up a fundraiser.
An easy way to find out more information or contact a representative of a charity is via Social Media. Social media managers can often answer basic questions about the charity, and often can direct you to someone in the organization that you could ask more in depth questions of.
Chapters or Guilds
If you are working with a charity that has chapters or guilds, there may be a local chapter in your area you can contact, vs a national organization. Local chapters can be valuable resources helping to send local information and organizing events.