With the upcoming holiday season, it’s a time of year to give back. Whether you write a check for a large organization, donate a little extra to church, or are just thinking about getting started, here are some things to think about for responsible giving that makes an impact.
Find Something Personal
What things do you care about? What can you stay passionate about supporting? This is all about finding the things you connect with on a personal level. Whether animals, cancer research, women’s shelters or food banks. Find something you believe in.
Do your research
Before you get out the checkbook, do a little homework. Or assign any children you might own to such homework under the guise of “life skills”. You need to double check that the charity you’re interest in supporting is a tax exempt 501(c)(3) public charity.
Examine the charity’s finances. Typically, excellent charities will have this information listed on their website. An organization that is financially healthy will have greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their charitable mission. You also want to make sure the charity is transparent about how it’s run, not just how it spends its money. Charities that follow good governance practices are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities.
You can also check with Better Business Bureau which looks at how charities use their funds. To earn the BBB seal, a charity must spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program activities and no more than 35% of related contributions on fund raising. While a charity might look great on paper, their financial documents will reveal that they spend most of their money on soliciting donations (ie: telemarketers, etc) and sometimes less than 1% on direct cash aid to programs.
After investigating a charity it’s time to sit down and talk with them. Hear where they’ve been and where they’d like to go. Make sure their goals and vision align with something you’re interested in supporting. Ask about whether a lump sum is better or a donation spaced throughout the year. And make sure you get a receipt as most donations are tax-deductible.
Obviously, you don’t need to follow up for an itemized list of where your money went. But you do want to check back in around the six-month mark just to see how things are moving overall. This is also the time to consider your next donation and whether you feel comfortable continuing this relationship. And don’t forget about other ways you might be able to support the charity—through volunteering or something more specific.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21
It’s a thing all too easy to forget, but breast cancer doesn’t affect just women. Each year, thousands of American men are diagnosed with breast cancer, in addition to more than 240,000 of their mothers, sisters, daughters, co-workers and friends.
The American Cancer Society introduced the Real Men Wear Pink campaign to Charlotte in 2016 as a way to give men a leadership role in the fight against breast cancer. Community leaders in Charlotte and around the nation use the power of pink to raise awareness and money. Each Real Men Wear Pink participant accepts a fundraising challenge and competes to be the top fundraiser among his peers by the end of the campaign.
In its first two years, Real Men Wear Pink of Greater Charlotte raised more than $100,000 to support breast cancer initiatives, including innovative research, patient services, and education around screenings and risk reduction. This year, 16 dedicated community leaders are working hard to reach their $65,000 fundraising goal:
Dr. James Appel of Novant Health Appel Plastic Surgery
Bruce Bellamy of Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department
Jonathan Breton of Flexogenix, Kevin Campbell of WSOC-TV
Tim Cochran of Duke Energy
Bret Golab of Heidenhain Corporation
Dave Holtzman of Search Solution Group
Ross Jeffries, Jr. of Bank of America
Will Medlin of Horack Talley
Bob Morgan of the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce
Christopher Moxley of 704 Shop & TIAA
John Overly of Duke Energy
Kurt Sowers of CapRock
John Taylor of Carowinds
Middle school student Wyatt Thornton
KJ VenDerwerken of Movement Insurance
“Real Men” commit to wearing pink throughout October, highlighting breast cancer issues and fundraising through social media, and have been involved in events, including the Pink Out the Park baseball game with the Kannapolis Intimidators and a reveal party at Napa on Providence announcing this year’s candidates. One of the biggest events is upcoming, the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk presented by Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage on Saturday, October 20 at the zMAX Dragway. Funds raised by Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks and the Real Men Wear Pink campaigns allow the American Cancer Society to provide free rides to treatment for breast cancer patients, host a 24-hour helpline for patients at 800-227-2345 and provide free lodging for patients who need to travel to the Greater Charlotte area for life-saving services.
Photo by Cody Hughes @clhughes21