10 #GivingTuesday Questions to Ask Before Donating

Investing a small amount of time before donating can make a big difference.

Posted Dec 03, 2019

 Kat Yukawa/Unsplash
Source: Kat Yukawa/Unsplash

Since it was founded in 2012 by non-profits 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in response to the commercialism of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday has been an important day of fundraising for many non-profits and charities, and for donors looking to support causes they believe in.

If you're online at all today, you're likely to see many appeals for your donation dollars. Maybe this is the first time you’ve considered participating or maybe it’s the first time you can participate in #GivingTuesday and aren’t sure where to start. If this is the case, here are some questions that I often ask myself that I hope might be useful to you.

  1. Who are the vulnerable and marginalized in my own community? In addition to providing services that survivors desperately need, donations can help remind people in a community that they are not forgotten.
  2. Who are the vulnerable and marginalized in parts of the world that are in need of support? If you really want to help make sure your donations meet real needs, giving financially to trusted organizations who have a pulse on local needs is a great way to get involved.
  3. What are the issues and needs that I am most naturally drawn toward? You are more likely to be informed and give more regularly to causes that you are already are interested in, which means your donation will likely have more of a positive impact. 
  4. How will the group or groups I’m giving to use my donation? Doing your homework is a must: A great place to start is Charity Navigator which is the largest evaluator of charities in the United States.
  5. Is the organization I’m considering supporting appear transparent in how funds from #GivingTuesday will be utilized? Don’t be afraid to ask an organization how your donation will be utilized if it is not clear, this can be as simple as a quick email or direct message via a social media platform.
  6. How much of my gift will go to direct (e.g., services) versus indirect (e.g., overhead costs) needs? Many organizations make this sort of information available on their website and promotional materials, so be sure to read the fine print. Caveat: Though most people are drawn to giving to services, remember that doing services well takes a lot of capacity so supporting indirect costs is also needed.
  7. Could designating my gift to indirect costs or making my gift unrestricted possibly be the way I could help the most? Though most people are drawn to supporting direct services, remember that to help well takes a lot of capacity; making a donation toward indirect costs (if done well) can actually amplify other direct giving efforts.
  8. What has the experience been like for others I know and trust that may have given to the organization I’m considering supporting? If you are like me, you’ve likely asked others about their satisfaction with a product or service before making a recent purchase, it would behoove you to do the same when it comes to giving.
  9. Could I use this opportunity to involve family or friends? To make your donation go further consider if there are others in your life that might be able to make a bigger impact together, from giving financially to advocating to raise awareness on a particular issue.
  10. Are the ways I’m considering giving truly about the needs of others (or am I letting my own needs get in the way)? Asking yourself these questions is a good place to start. Keep in mind that though effective giving starts with you—it’s not about you. Donating that makes an impact comes from matching our resources with real needs, not our need to feel “warm and fuzzy.”

#GivingTuesday has had an enormous impact: In 2018 online donations on #GivingTuesday exceeded a billion dollars. Use #GivingTuesday as an opportunity to set aside time to research and find the right organization or organizations to support in now, and if you are able, in the future, too. Donating on #GivingTuesday is one small way we can make a big difference.

For more #GivingTuesday tips, read my #WheatonExpert interview on how to make your dollars count.