Pretty soon the catalogs and appeal letters will begin arriving in your mailbox that signal the push for year-end giving.
Some of them will be from organizations that you love and support. You’ll be thrilled to thumb through the pages holding pictures of ducks, and sheep, and rabbits. You’ll begin to pray as a family whether to give $79 to a water filtration system to help a village or 13 small animals to nourish a family.
But some of the letters and packets you receive will make you wonder how you ended up on their mailing list and they’ll go right in the trash.
We want our dollars to make a difference. Here are 7 questions to help you make your donations count.
1. Does the cause align with my passion?
My heart beats most strongly for the cause of women and children, particularly orphans and widows Although there are plenty of good causes out there, this is the cause that most deeply stirs my heart. What are the causes that line up with your passion?
2. Does it offer help in the name of Christ?
This one is a bit tricky because I do believe that there is so much value in simply helping people. Think about the “good Samaritan.” In the name of good, decent, humanity, we should help each other. But if I have a choice, I am going to choose to support an organization that is offering help in the name of Christ. Is this important to you?
3. Does the organization highlight beauty?
Although there are terrible situations in the world, I appreciate an organization that doesn’t just show the horror, but also shows the beauty of the people they serve, values their dignity, and gives them honor. Do the organizations you support value the people they are serving?
4. Is there focused vision?
Before I make a contribution, I need to see that the organization has a clear focus. Too many organizations suffer from vision drift and end up scattered and ineffective. I’d much rather donate to an organization that has a laser beam focus than one that generally helps people.
5. Is local leadership empowered?
For me, this is key. I’m looking for organizations that don’t come in and tell people what they need. Rather, they listen to the needs of the people, partner with them, and build up local leadership. Do the organizations that you support empower local leadership?
6. Will my dollars be multiplied?
Rather than a dollar-for-dollar return on my investment, I’m looking for organizations that will multiply my dollars. This may look like financing micro-loans, or supporting training for local leaders, or providing chickens that will lay eggs. How important is multiplicity to you?
7. Is there relational involvement?
I may give a one-time gift to an organization in which I have no personal connection, but I’m more likely to really get behind an organization where I know someone, or I know someone who knows someone. I’m interested in relational involvement, not just funding someone else’s mission. Do you have personal connection with the organizations you support?
What questions do you ask when you are considering making a donation? Please leave a comment, and also feel free to leave a link to the organizations that you wholeheartedly endorse.