Dec 222014

It’s December. Christmas decorations in stores have been up for 8 weeks already, you may be wishing you could target an EMP at speakers playing carols, and the annual charity season is in full swing. Salvation Army kettles are in the malls, and there are billboards up explaining that a goat is more than just a goat.

So, how do you decide which charities are worth giving to?

Nadine Riopel, who blogs about taking a proactive approach to doing good things with your time and energy at the Savvy Do Gooder, spoke to us a couple of years ago with tips about making the most of your donation budget. (You should also check out her Pecha Kucha presentation from 2012, “Savvy Do-Gooders Don’t Listen to 17th Century Religious Zealots”.)

Some of the tips that came out of that were:

  • What do you really care about?
  • Research your charity, are they doing what you hoped they would?
  • Administration costs aren’t everything. Super low administration spending may mean that the charity doesn’t have the resources to make sure the money is used efficiently.

You can also check out Charity Intelligence Canada (Ci), with ratings based on transparency, need for funding, and operating efficiency. They don’t get in to whether the charity is accomplishing what they planned to, but they do take into account whether that information is available for a donor to review themselves. In an interview with Edmonton AM on December 22, a rep of Ci indicated that when they looked through catalogs for international donations (such as the charities that let you buy a family a goat) mosquito nets and deworming pills were some of the most effective products to donate.