Over the last few weeks, you certainly had plenty of opportunities to donate to charity, thanks in large part to increased media attention on people and organizations in need during the holidays. And, no doubt, you knew that donating a few extra dollars at the end of the year could be good come tax time. The question, then, is how did nonprofits do this most recent holiday season? According to USA Today, lots of large organizations, like Salvation Army, did very well. But other, smaller organizations didn't make out as well. While collectively we may have been generous as a nation, and while we want charities of all sizes to be able to help those in need, shouldn't we be looking out for the little guy? And how does one even go about that?
Well-run large organizations can certainly be more "effective" or "efficient" with your donation, given the purchasing power they have, a track record of experience, and an ability to attract talented people who can leverage a marketing budget in order to get in front of more donors. But, many times, innovation in the nonprofit sector happens via small charities. It is also the smaller organizations that pick up where the big players leave off, serving a population overlooked or neglected by a streamlined service model.
In short, small organizations need your generous donations all year long in order to meet demand and have the chance to grow.
So, if you're someone deeply concerned about how each nickel you give away is spent, then when you donate to a large nonprofit, give the same amount to a smaller, local organization. Look at it as an investment in your own backyard, giving a nonprofit the chance to meet a unique need while growing in the process.
Or, divide your giving in 2012 between older, established organizations and newer, nimbler nonprofits. At the end of the year, see how far the latter has come in their service offerings and effectiveness. You could have a chance to contribute to something exciting and very meaningful.
And, if you're on the lookout for new organizations in your neck of the woods, reach out to your network to see what's brewing. Many times, because smaller organizations don't have a marketing budget or staff, they rely heavily on word of mouth. See where your friends donate, ask them why they support a given cause, and then band together to pool your money to help a small organization grow well into the future.
Do you support smaller organizations more often than larger ones? Or is the size of a nonprofit not a concern when you write a check?