How to Choose a Charity to Support in 4 Simple Steps

Here's how to choose a charity to support, from defining your values to choosing a cause to ensuring your chosen organization is effective!

2020 was a crazy year, to say the very least.

From the coronavirus pandemic to the ongoing fight to stop climate change to Black Lives Matter and beyond, there have never been more organizations needing our support.

Unfortunately, we all have limited resources, meaning we need to pick the ideal cause to have maximum impact.

But, which one to select? 

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Here’s how to choose a charity to support in a few simple steps:

1. Determine Your Values

If you think of choosing a charity like a funnel, determining your values will be the large, open side of the cone. However, it’s crucial to understand what’s important to you and what isn’t. As psychologist Barb Markway and Celia Ampel define in The Self-Confidence Workbook, values “are the principles that give our lives meaning and allow us to persevere through adversity.”

You can decide on your values and their respective priorities yourself, or you can use one of the free online tools available. Websites such as Life Values Inventory lets you answer a series of questions to determine what’s dear to you. After you finish their quiz, you’ll get personalized results as well as downloadable strategies “designed to help connect your values with strategies for flourishing.”

Related Read: 25 Small Acts You Can Do to Have a Great Impact

2. Pick a Cause

Once you’ve determined your values, it’s time to narrow things down and choose a cause. According to the Cambridge dictionary, a cause is “a socially valuable principle that is strongly supported by some people.”

Your cause could be local or global, aimed at a specific group of people or large populations. Perhaps you’d like to 

For help with choosing a cause to support, ask yourself some questions:

  • Is there a particular group of people you feel passionate about helping?
  • Do you wish to see clear results from your support?
  • What are the world’s most pressing issues, and do I want to help there?
  • Do you want recognition for your charitable contributions?
  • Would you prefer your cause be global, regional, or local?
  • Do you want to support something current or an ongoing issue?
  • Should the cause relate to what you do professionally?
  • Are you willing to support more than one cause?
  • Do you want to support financially or some other way (e.g., volunteering)?

Related Read: 10 Ways to Support the SDGs Without Spending Any Money

3. Find Organizations in Your Chosen Category

Once you’ve narrowed down your cause or causes, you’ll have to locate established charities and nonprofit organizations within that sector. 

Almost every cause, especially those with global concerns, will have multiple charities. Here, you’ll have to ask yourself a few further questions, as well. Do you want a renowned charity with a proven track record, or would you rather support a newer or less-funded organization? Is this a one-time donation or will you be supporting on an ongoing basis?

Now, locate the charities in your cause by using these directories:

Make a list of the charities which match your cause, values, and questions, and move on to the final step.

Related Read: 15 Earth Day Tips to Support the Environment

4. Research Each Charity Before Donating

Before you just hand over your hard-earned money to a charity saying they’re easing poverty or promoting equality, it’s important to make sure that your money will go where they say and that it’ll have the impact you desire.

For this, my favorite tool is Charity Navigator

There, you can first locate your cause, whether it’s something specific, like Black Lives Matter, or a hot global topic, such as helping refugees or preventing suicides.

Once you get a list of charities in the category of your choice, click on them for more information. Charity Navigator gives you an overall star rating (1–4 stars), as well as a 1–100 score for particular aspects, including their financial score and their accountability and transparency. 

Fun Fact: Here’s a cool charity-related word for you to know – “eleemosynary” (pronounced el-uh-MOH-suh-nary). Eleemosynary is an adjective that means “of or relating to alms, charity, or charitable donations; charitable.”

Along with details about each organization’s financial performance metrics, income statements, financial charts, and impact information, you’ll be well-prepared to identify a charity that you can trust your money with. In general, avoid charities there with less than 2 stars, as well as those which haven’t been rated yet at all, unless you have separate information about their trustworthiness.

That’s really all there is to it!

Related Read: How Does Recycling Help the Environment?

Hopefully this article has helped you with how to choose a charity. If you have any questions, feedback, or other thoughts on choosing charities to donate to, let us know in the comments below, and thanks for reading!

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Christian Eilers
Written By Christian Eilers
is a writer and expert on the topics of education, entrepreneurship, career advice, travel, and culture. On the Goodwall Blog, he covers topics including self-improvement, social impact, college preparation, career development, climate action, and more. Christian is originally from New York City and now resides in Kyiv, Ukraine after living in Warsaw, Poland for the past 4 years. At his desk, you're sure to find Pickwick, his Devon Rex cat, either attacking his fingers as he types or the monitor as the mouse pointer moves around.

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