Friday, November 1, 2013

How do you decide where to give?

Many line up to ask you for money or time or involvement in one good cause or another. How do you decide which to support and which to not? I've been thinking about this lately because there are many who knock on the door. Some thoughts in no particular order and I'd welcome your input:

  1. Invest with people you know. In fact, invest in the people you know. I've become involved in a local University where I'm on the board of trustees. I never went to school there and until I was asked to be on the board, I had probably been on the campus only 3-4 times. But I knew some of the people (Alfred) and have come to know countless others (John, Jeff, Scott, Mike, Alison, Summer, Bob, Stafford, Richard, Chip, Bill, Jeff, Risa, Michael, Neil, Kent, Kerri, Stephen, John, Dana, Alan, Brooke, Bryan, Jeff and others). These are good people doing good things and I want to invest in what they are doing and I want to invest in them.
  2. Invest in the eternal. I believe there is a story unfolding that was set in motion by a creator who also intervened in the world 2000 years ago. Find what he is doing, as best you can, and invest, support and work with that effort. Those who are telling the story or helping others tell the story.
  3. Invest in the needs of people. There is much hurt and neglect in the world. There are people, families and communities that are left behind and they need help. It might be far away or it might be in your own community. Feeding people and helping their physical needs must be a priority. 
  4. Invest in efforts that are transparent and collaborative. If a group wants to go it alone, then pass. If they are not clear in their plans, results, metrics and financials, then pass. Organizational arrogance results in a full stop with me.
  5. Invest in efforts that are financially efficient. This doesn't mean they are cheap and don't pay their people well. In fact, non-profits should spend as necessary to get the best results possible. But the organization should not be wasteful and its spending should be on point with the mission of the organization.
Ideally, groups to support would include people you know doing eternal things and investing in people while being fully transparent and collaborative in their efforts. 

What else do you think about? What have I missed? I sense there are other things that should be considered and I'd like your input.


  1. I think you've nailed it. Thinking over the types of people and organizations I give to, they fit into those categories. I like to spread it around among organizations providing food, water, education and/or shelter as well as missions efforts. Sometimes we can satisfy a whole need (a child's yearly education expenses) and sometimes we are part of a larger project (drilling wells for clean water). But if we have it, it's incumbent upon us to help. Like you, I try to follow #4 and #5 as well.

  2. Thanks Lori. I'm still thinking about these things. I really think efficiency, transparency and collaboration are really important.