With the holiday giving season underway, many generous Southwest Floridians will look for ways to support those less fortunate, lending their support to nonprofit organizations making a difference in this community.
There are an endless variety of causes worthy of support, including education, arts, culture, humanities, environment, health care, human services, religion and many others. Our community is fortunate to have hundreds of highly effective nonprofits serving the residents of Southwest Florida.
If you are not sure where to begin, below are five things worth considering to ensure gifts of any size have your desired impact this giving season.
Nonprofits are required to disclose basic financial information through IRS Form 990. Reputable, successful organizations welcome full transparency, posting financial statements online in addition to voluntarily submitting data, personnel information, organizational charts, mission statements and other materials to companies that evaluate and rate nonprofits. Charity Navigator and GuideStar evaluate accountability, finances, culture, leadership, results and more. Organizations can earn top ratings by being good stewards of donations and accomplishing what they say they’re going to do.
Nonprofits often partner with other philanthropic-minded organizations to help carry out their missions. In Southwest Florida, for example, local chapters of the United Way identify partner agencies to receive funding after undergoing a thorough screening process. Additionally, Naples Children & Education Foundation (NCEF), Collier Community Foundation, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation and other organizations distribute grants to local nonprofits. Often, funding from reputable partner agencies signals that a nonprofit has been thoroughly vetted, offering validation that a nonprofit is effective.
Nonprofits have mission statements that outline their overall goal or goals. Some are aspirational, while others are realistic. Quality organizations will take a deep dive each year that examines whether they are accomplishing, or on the path to accomplishing, their goals and objectives. Results should be quantifiable. Much like investors in the stock market want to see a profit, investors in a nonprofit should be able to see that their dollars are making an impact. Take a look at the nonprofit’s website to see recent Impact Reports and understand how your gift will make a difference.
Good work always draws attention. Industry associations, media and philanthropic groups often sponsor awards programs to recognize both organizations and individuals that produce outstanding work. Although nonprofits can be reluctant to toot their own horns, those with a collection of awards are like athletes with a jam-packed trophy case – it means they’re good at what they do.
One of the most important parts of giving is finding a cause that resonates with you. Look for nonprofits that have values and beliefs that align with yours. While ratings and success can be helpful in your selection process, what matters most is investing resources that help the community in ways that matter to you.
Giving is important, but it’s especially meaningful if you give to a cause you truly support and give to an organization that will truly make a difference.
Kelly Krupp is vice president of philanthropy at Guadalupe Center, which provides educational services to more than 1,750 students annually in Immokalee. To learn more, please visit GuadalupeCenter.org or call 239-657-7711.