How to decide where to give this holiday season

November 22, 2022

Jamie Schloegel, Chief Executive OfficerBy Jamie Schloegel, Chief Executive Officer

Getting the most impact out of your year-end giving

The holiday season is just around the corner, and for a lot of people this also means making year-end giving decisions. Did you know that nearly 1/3 of annual charitable giving occurs in the month of December?

I hope as you make your charitable giving decisions this year you first consider giving locally. There are many incredible nonprofit organizations in the greater La Crosse area that rely on the generous philanthropic support of individuals like you to achieve their missions. In fact, there are so many organizations to choose from it can be overwhelming to narrow the choices.

I recently found a great article from Fidelity Charitable providing suggested questions you should ask every nonprofit before deciding to give. The article explains that learning more about the nonprofits you support will help you feel confident that you are choosing effective organizations – and that your support is really making a difference.

4-step conversation guide to help you choose the right nonprofits

Here are four areas – with suggested questions – the article recommends you discuss with a nonprofit to uncover key information about the organizations you are considering supporting. It doesn’t take a lot of time to reach out by phone or email, and most nonprofits will welcome the opportunity to answer these questions and help you learn more about what they do.

  1. Set the stage – Tell the nonprofit who you are and your interest in supporting nonprofits that align with your target issue or interest areas. “I’d really like to learn more about the work you do, and I wanted to speak to someone who can answer a few questions for me. Would you be able to help, or is there someone on the fundraising team I can speak with?”
  2. Learn about the programs and goals – Indicate you’d like to start by asking a few questions about the work they do. “What’s your most successful program and why? Give me your best example of the way you’ve seen your organization’s work make a difference. Is there anything that you wish more people knew about your organization or the issues you are trying to solve?”
  3. Learn about resourcing and opportunities – Now transition the conversation to the organization’s funding needs. “Where does most of your funding come from? What percentage of your budget comes from private donations, and what do private donations help you do that your other sources of funding don’t cover?”
  4. Learn how they engage supporters – Wrap up the conversation by finding out a little more about how the organization involves (and recognizes) its supporters. “How do you keep your supporters up to date about your work?”

Going even deeper with your charitable giving decision-making

The suggested questions above will provide you a solid foundation for understanding a nonprofit and its needs. As your level of support or involvement increases, you may want to ask some additional questions. Here are a few ideas for future conversations:

  • How do you measure and report on the effectiveness of your programs?
  • What are the main obstacles that stand between you and your mission, and how do you plan to overcome those?
  • How would you compare your programs and results to other organizations with similar missions?
  • How can I get more involved?

Lastly, do not forget to thank the organization for its time after each conversation! While the organization’s staff will be delighted to speak with you, they are busy and often wear many more hats than a staffer in a traditional for-profit business. This time of the year is especially busy for most nonprofits.

Remembering all gifts are appreciated

And remember, any gift is a great gift. It’s not about the amount. Gifts of all sizes are greatly accepted and appreciated by all organizations.

Still not sure where your money will have the most impact? Contact us and we’ll help you decide!