Picking a charity is tough simply because it is difficult for donors to evaluate a charity before donating their money. The problem is that non-profit organizations don’t have a standardized way to measure outcomes. A business can count profits, but how does a non-profit organization measure its effectiveness?
Donors who are looking for hard and fast statistical measurements to guide their charitable decisions are typically left with measuring “efficiency.” That usually breaks down to looking at a non-profit organization’s financial information to make sure that most of its funds go for programs rather than overhead. Most donors would prefer to feed more children, provide more scholarships, support more local projects which need funding, etc. than to cover overhead expenses. Donors also want to see that a charity’s fundraising costs are reasonable. Obviously, if a charity raises $75,000 but spends $50,000 on fundraising costs, it is not an efficient charity.
The Bent Tree Foundation’s efficiency ratings for returning contributions to the local community are extremely high because:
- There are no paid employees. Those individuals involved in managing our Bent Tree Foundation are all volunteers.
- All donations are distributed to the local community.
- Professional fund raising is not a part of BTFI’s process for obtaining donations.
Of interest is Warren Buffet’s donation strategies as outlined below:
It’s a difficult time right now for charities/foundations. Donations are down and demand for services is up. But making donations to a charity is an investment in our society – one that we should not give up because times are tight. We might have to scale back, but mostly we need to rethink our strategies for our donations.
Invest your donations in what you know and understand
It has become an investing truism that we should look around at the products and services that we and our neighbors use to find good investments. The same works for donating to charity. So look at what touches your life.
We are also encouraged to keep our investments “simple.” Donate to non-profit organizations that are easy to understand. Look for clarity and transparency. The more local the charity the better.
- Good foundations are like good companies and deserve long-term investment.
- Develop a program of consistent donation to the non-profit organizations you choose to support. Don’t be a “give this year but not the next year” type of donor.
- Include your charitable donations in your yearly budget. If you must cut back, give smaller amounts frequently.
- Concentrate on a small number of non-profit organizations.
It might feel good to give to whoever asks you for a donation or to an array of causes that catch your eye. But impact is built steadily over time and through concentration. When you do your yearly donation planning, set aside a small amount of money that you can tap in case a new cause attracts you or if your friends ask for your help with a special cause.
Generally, however, focus on a limited number of non-profit organizations and causes and be there for them over time. You will have more impact as a philanthropist (and you are a philanthropist no matter how much or how little you donate) and the organizations you give donations to will be stronger for your loyalty and steadfastness.
The Bent Tree Foundation strives to earn your confidence. We have established a number of specific funds for the benefit of Bent Tree and the local community. Donating to these specified funds or to the General Fund is simple:
Make your check payable to Bent Tree Foundation, Inc. and designate on the memo line of your check whether your donation is for the General Fund or a specific fund. Mail your check to the address shown on this website; or if you are a Bent Tree resident, you may leave your check at our Community Mail Center.
Look for future “Foundation Cornerstones” to learn more about other donation options to the Bent Tree Foundation.
Neither the Bent Tree Foundation, its Board of Directors, or other affiliated associates provide financial or legal advice. Any use of ideas from this, or any other columns, should be professionally guided from legal and/or financial advisors.