I shared in a previous article that before I became more mindful about my giving, I used to give every time the phone rang. Sometimes it was my sole responsibility to send all the children in the city to the circus.Another time it seemed that the entire police force was depending on me to single-handedly finance the end of child pornography and if I didn’t contribute then I clearly did not care about children. When I realized these were not charitable organizations at all but businesses manipulating me and making money, I felt conned.
When I first took steps to correct this, I fell into another trap.
I started asking the solicitor on the other end of the line to send me documentation in the mail stating how my money would be used. They would go as far as asking my address however, I never heard from one of them. I had in mind to apply what I know now to be the worst way to evaluate a charity. I evaluated the charity based on administration and operating costs as a percentage of what was perceived to be going to the mission of the organization.
I know now what a huge mistake that was.
Here’s what I have since learned about evaluating an organization based on it’s operational costs as a percentage of value provided.
Foremost, many organizations make an impact that is difficult to place a value on. For instance, how does one put a value on a breakfast program for children? How do you put a price on the difference that breakfast might make to the health and educational advantages for a child? What is it worth for a child to be comfortable and not suffering hunger pangs? Next, all organizations are unique in the programs they deliver, and the management required, so comparing organizations is almost always apples to oranges.
In her book Delusional Altruism, global philanthropy expert, Kris Putnam-Walkerly discusses this in the very first chapter. This is a great read if you want to become mindful regarding your giving. Kris Putnam-Wakerly says if “you believe all your money should “help people” (or animals, or the environment), without recognizing the needs of the organizations doing the help. You have a scarcity mindset, and it’s undermining your effectiveness.”
She goes on to discuss that the cost of delivering the mission of the organization includes all of the costs: everything from hiring the most talented and creative leadership, development of those people, investment in technology, data collection, reporting, and more. It’s like we expect the charitable sector to take a vow of poverty. When you think about it, it is delusional to believe that impact can be created without input.
So, how should you choose a charity? On the website Smart Giving there is a list of 32 items to consider when choosing a charity.
While all 32 points are thought provoking and valuable, I believe the most important first step is to find an organization whose mission resonates with you. Your giving will be joyful if you are excited about what the organization is doing. It will motivate you and give your life additional meaning.
When we are mindful about the way we make our charitable donations, we cast a vote for our values and we practise ☺Mindful Money Management. Join the mindful and create a better world.
Imagine what it would be like if we all became mindful. Mindful Money Management makes that happen when you spend, invest and donate to create a better world.
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How are you voting for your values? I’d love to learn about the impact you plan to make. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments and ask to be included on the guestlist for my next Mindful Money Management Zoom Workshop. See you there!