Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Week, New Charity FAQ

What is this blog about?
So I had this idea.  Starting with the new year, I would find a new charity to donate to each week.   There are so many worthy causes out there and frankly we wanted to step up our annual donation level so this will force us to expand our horizons and discover new worthy causes.

Wow, what a brilliant idea!

I thought so.  So did some other random guy I've never met before.  Check out his blog.  He has done a much better job of starting and maintaining his than I have with mine (so far) but I do hope to give him a run for the money (no pun intended) throughout the year.

But didn't the New Year start weeks ago?
Yes.  Yes it did.  Anyone who knows me in real life, knows that I am not great with deadlines.  So before I knew it, we were three weeks into the year and although I actually had been making donations, I hadn't even started this blog.  Rather than beat myself up about that and just abandon the whole project, I've decided to make sure I'm really donating every week and post about each donation when I get the motivation and the time.  So don't expect posts to appear on a regular schedule, but there should be an average of one post a week (at least) by the end of the year.

How much are you donating each week?

It's possible that will change from week to week, but the idea was to have a minimum donation level for each week.  What that specific dollar amount is, I'd rather not say, but it's more than $25 and less than $500.  $25 per week adds up to $1300 by the end of the year and that is an amount that can make a big difference in the world.

How are you finding and vetting these charities?
I am trying to tap lots of different resources.  I have gotten suggestions from friends, family, news stories, and blogs.  In addition Give Well is a great resource for finding worthy causes I've never even heard of.  Before giving to any charity, I do check out their rating on Charity Navigator, GuideStar and Charity Watch.  Keep in mind that some (usually smaller) charities may not be listed in these databases, but that doesn't mean they aren't doing worthy work and making good use of the donations.  You just may have to dig a little more to find out about their operation.

What about charities you've supported in the past?

The whole idea was to find 52 new charities to support, so any charity that we've given to in the past doesn't count.  But since some of them are really worthy causes that we continue to support, I plan to post about those too, whenever we donate to them.

Are you taking suggestions for new charities?
Sure!  Leave a comment in a recent post if you have a suggestion.  

Any limitations on what kinds of charities you are considering?

For the purpose of this endeavor, I'm only donating to groups registered as 501c(3) organizations.  This means that some international, and all political causes will be left out.   I'm not making a value judgement.  Some of those organizations do great work that I support.  However, it does mean that donations are tax deductible, which can be handy if you itemize your US income tax return.

How helpful are one-time donations to a charity?
This question doesn't have an obvious answer.  On the one hand, more money coming in is always a good thing.  On the other, it's better for charities to have a consistent source of revenue year in and year out rather than one-time donations from donors who they never hear from again.  I really don't want these charities spending their resources trying to get follow-up donations from us in the future, because in many cases that is unlikely to happen.  These are causes I'm interested in supporting once, not long term.  As a result, I'm going to try to ask charities to remove my name and info from their donor lists whenever possible and I may just resort to making some of these donations anonymously.

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