“It’s not about the money you give. It’s about how well you give that money.”
That’s timely advice from philanthropy guru Katherina Rosqueta, founding executive director of the Center for High Impact Philanthropy at the University of Pennsylvania.
In a nutshell, Katherina has spent years studying how to change the world. She helps donors and non-profit organizations make a bigger impact through effective giving.
And there’s no bigger season for giving than now. Thanksgiving to New Year’s is the biggest time of year for charitable giving, according to Charity Navigator.
Making a bigger impact doesn’t always mean a bigger dollar sign, says Rosqueta. “The biggest misconception people have,” she says, “is that good intentions and a lot of money mean a lot of impact.”
We know that, for many of our clients, the holidays are all about helping others. Here’s six tips from Rosqueta and others on how to give smarter:
1). Focus on the change you want to bring about. Then support organizations that are already making those changes in the world.
2), A good jumping off point is charitable evaluation sites like charitynavigator.org, give.org, guidestar.org, or myphilanthropedia.org. Use these sites to narrow down your search, but don’t stop with statistics. Try to get a feel for what a charity actually does in the field and how it creates change.
3). There are roughly one million charities in the U.S, says Charity Navigator. “Don’t settle for an organization that isn’t a match for your beliefs and goals. No matter what cause you want to support — whether it is finding a cure to Lou Gehrig’s Disease, helping our returning troops find work or preventing the spread of Ebola in West Africa — there’s a charity out there that matches your intentions,” they advise.
4). You can make more of an impact by focusing your efforts, but when starting out, don’t be afraid to cast a wide net. It’s a good idea to get involved with several charities at first, and figuratively “kick the tires,” until you can decide which group is the best fit for you.
5). Sometimes the best way to help is just to send money. It can get to the people who need it faster. Rosqueta has done research on the subject, and says that giving money to a food bank at holiday time may do more good than donating cans of food.
6). It can feel good to do good, so have fun, pursue your passion, and enjoy! Concludes Rosqueta: “A lot of research finds that people who give and volunteer are happier and more successful.”