By Laura Walker, staff writer for Canopy Children’s Solutions
Many nonprofit organizations see a surge in charitable giving around the holidays. The spirit of giving is at its peak during that time, but what about the rest of the year? Nonprofit organizations serve their missions all year long, which is why charitable giving is so important year-round.
Start by choosing a charity whose mission is close to you. When identifying a prospective charity to support, check with your state’s charity regulator to see how a nonprofit uses its donations and to ensure an organization is legitimate. It is recommended to look for charities where program service expenses account for 75 percent or more of the organization’s spending; however, if an organization runs mostly on goods donations, overhead expenses may appear high. In those cases, examining the organization’s annual report can help show their measurable impact.
After selecting a charity, look at your own time, talents, and resources to determine how you can best support an organization’s mission. Remember, most nonprofits rely on more than just monetary donations.
1. Donate your time. While every nonprofit can benefit from the donation of a dollar, your time and talents can be just as useful and important. Getting involved can also help you see first-hand the needs of the organization.
2. Collect discriminately. Depending on the time of year, the needs of an organization will vary. A donation of coats isn’t much benefit in the middle of July and can take up valuable storage space; however, organizing a coat drive in December gets the supplies to those who need them when they need them. Speak with staff to determine the most immediate needs at the time. Here are a few needs drive ideas depending on the type of organization you are supporting: Non-perishable foods, School supplies, Blankets, Toiletries, Pet needs, Books, Gift cards, Toys
3. Designate your donation as unrestricted. If you are supporting a responsible organization, you already know a high percentage of every dollar goes to support its mission. Restricting how a donation can be used can cause needs to go unanswered. Supporting a nonprofit with a proven track record will help put your mind at ease knowing that donations will be used responsibly and go toward the greatest needs at the time they arise.
While needs are great during the holidays, they are often just as great the rest of the year and many nonprofits are working with less in the interim months to support them. Consider making a New Year’s resolution to support a cause you are passionate about, not just at the holidays, but all year long.
Canopy Children’s Solutions is a registered 501(c)3 with the Mississippi Secretary of State. It is the state’s most comprehensive nonprofit provider of children’s behavioral health, educational and social service solutions. Canopy is stringent in its use of charitable funds with more than 93 percent directly supporting solutions for families and children. Learn more at mycanopy.org.