Donat­ing the right way — 8 tips to make sure your dona­tion real­ly gets to where it is needed

Which orga­ni­za­tion can you entrust your mon­ey to? We give tips on how you can make the most of your dona­tion and how to rec­og­nize dubi­ous organizations.

1. Ask your­self: What do I want to support?

Whether in news­pa­pers, on tele­vi­sion, by e‑mail or at the front door — every­where orga­ni­za­tions are solic­it­ing donations.

Be clear in mind what you real­ly want to donate for. What is impor­tant to you: Chil­dren? Health? Envi­ron­ment? Ani­mals? Fight­ing pover­ty? Devel­op­ment aid?

Pick the cause for which your heart beats.

You should ask your­self these questions:

  • Which top­ic inter­ests me most on a per­son­al level?
  • Do I want to sup­port the same orga­ni­za­tion as last year or a dif­fer­ent one?
  • Where can I achieve the most with my donation?

2. Get information

Infor­ma­tion is essen­tial before mak­ing a deci­sion on a dona­tion. So check out the orga­ni­za­tion’s web­site and google what oth­ers say about the organization.

Donate only when you feel suf­fi­cient­ly informed and your research indi­cates that the orga­ni­za­tion is doing work of high quality.

What do I look out for on a web­site of an orga­ni­za­tion doing non­prof­it or char­i­ty work?

The fol­low­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics indi­cate a trust­wor­thy organization:

  • The infor­ma­tion on the site is cur­rent and not com­plete­ly out of date.
  • The orga­ni­za­tion pro­vides com­pre­hen­sive infor­ma­tion about its project activities.
  • The orga­ni­za­tion is rec­og­nized as a non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tion and can pro­vide proof of this with an exemp­tion cer­tifi­cate from the tax office.
  • The orga­ni­za­tion works trans­par­ent­ly and pub­lish­es e.g. annu­al activ­i­ty reports, the statutes and rel­e­vant finan­cial data.
  • The orga­ni­za­tion is rec­og­nized by rep­utable insti­tu­tions, e.g. with the DZI seal of approval or through the PHI­NEO Seal of Impact

3. Ask for more information

The will­ing­ness of an orga­ni­za­tion to pro­vide infor­ma­tion about their mis­sion or a con­crete project is an impor­tant cri­te­ri­on for seri­ous­ness and professionalism.

As a donor, you should feel wel­comed with any ques­tions you may have. Espe­cial­ly if it is about a larg­er amount , you should clar­i­fy remain­ing ques­tions on the phone. For very large dona­tions, an on-site vis­it is advisable.

How can I tell if my ques­tions are welcome?

Orga­ni­za­tions that are will­ing to pro­vide infor­ma­tion can be rec­og­nized by the fact that…

  • you will be offered the oppor­tu­ni­ty to get a per­son­al impres­sion on site,
  • you get an answer to your questions,
  • the orga­ni­za­tion pub­lish­es an annu­al report that pro­vides trans­par­ent infor­ma­tion on its activ­i­ties, the orga­ni­za­tion itself and its finances,
  • the mem­bers of the man­age­ment and super­vi­so­ry body are named in the brochures or on the website,
  • you are offered a con­tact to the staff mem­bers respon­si­ble for this spe­cif­ic matter.

4. Pay atten­tion to the impact

As a donor, you should feel that you can make a dif­fer­ence with your donation.

Eval­u­a­tions and analy­ses can pro­vide infor­ma­tion about whether the work of the orga­ni­za­tion is suc­cess­ful. There­fore, pay atten­tion to whether and to what extent the orga­ni­za­tion reports on results and outcomes.

How can I rec­og­nize projects that have an impact?

The orga­ni­za­tion …

  • has a clear vision and rel­e­vant expe­ri­ence in the area for which it is rais­ing funds„
  • sets tar­gets, makes them trans­par­ent and mon­i­tors their achievement,
  • describes their progress and tan­gi­ble results,
  • informs reg­u­lar­ly about dona­tions and their use.

You can also com­pare orga­ni­za­tions and projects work­ing in the same field: Which con­cepts and approach­es work in what way?

5. Take one more look before signing

You can also sup­port projects with reg­u­lar con­tri­bu­tions, e.g. through a direct deb­it autho­riza­tion or with a sus­tain­ing mem­ber­ship. In addi­tion to many seri­ous char­i­ty orga­ni­za­tions, there are of course also black sheep on the road. That is why it is advis­able, espe­cial­ly with reg­u­lar dona­tions, that you inform your­self in detail before signing.

Don’t just find out about the orga­ni­za­tion, but check (as with oth­er con­tracts) the terms and notice periods.

What should I pay atten­tion to before signing?

Make sure that …

  • notice peri­ods for grant agree­ments are vis­i­ble and easy to find, and
  • you don’t over­spend your­self finan­cial­ly. Espe­cial­ly with larg­er sums, you should be as sure as pos­si­ble that you can pay the contributions.

6. Donate in a way that ben­e­fits the orga­ni­za­tion most

Ear­marked dona­tions (dona­tions in which the orga­ni­za­tion com­mits to using the dona­tion for the pur­pose pre­vi­ous­ly defined) give a good feel­ing because they can sup­port a spe­cif­ic cause. How­ev­er, ear­marked dona­tions can lim­it the scope of action of the orga­ni­za­tion — for exam­ple, if the pur­pose is too nar­row­ly defined. The orga­ni­za­tion may then not use your dona­tion for oth­er activ­i­ties, but only for the intend­ed pur­pose. This is unfavourable because flex­i­bil­i­ty is lost. In the event of a sud­den cri­sis, it can­not react adequately.

In this sense: You have cho­sen an organ­i­sa­tion because you trust it. So you should also trust the know-how and expe­ri­ence of the orga­ni­za­tion. Donate with­out earmarking!

7. Donate in a cost-sav­ing way

Noth­ing in life is for free, not even the dona­tion. Every dona­tion incurs costs, such as trans­ac­tion costs at the bank, account man­age­ment fees or oth­er costs. There­fore, for exam­ple, pay­ment by direct deb­it is cheap­er than by cred­it card.

Two hints in this context:

  • Admin­is­tra­tive costs are an ele­men­tary and impor­tant part of non­prof­it work. Orga­ni­za­tions have to pay rent, mod­ern­ize their IT, or even buy fundrais­ing software.
  • It is bet­ter to con­sid­er one large dona­tion than many small ones.
  • Dona­tions to non­prof­it orga­ni­za­tions (from sports clubs to church­es and wel­fare insti­tu­tions) are tax-deductible. You should there­fore get a dona­tion receipt or present your bank state­ment to the tax office for dona­tions of up to 200 euros.

What should I pay atten­tion to when mak­ing a payment?

Before you pro­ceed with a pay­ment, you should make sure that you …

  • donate by bank trans­fer or direct deb­it, as this caus­es the low­est costs and
  • get a dona­tion receipt for dona­tions over 200 Euro (with online forms there is usu­al­ly the ques­tion whether a dona­tion receipt is required).

8. Be strate­gic with larg­er donations.

For larg­er dona­tions you should def­i­nite­ly take a strate­gic approach!

Define key data such as objec­tives, fund­ing top­ics, forms of invest­ment or fund­ing guide­lines. Strate­gic dona­tions con­tribute sig­nif­i­cant­ly to achiev­ing social impacts.

If you take these tips to heart, you are one step clos­er to a pur­pose­ful donation!

Our offer

Fur­ther infor­ma­tion on how to devel­op a dona­tion strat­e­gy or how to recog­nise dubi­ous dona­tion organ­i­sa­tions is avail­able as a free down­load! If you would like a detailed indi­vid­ual con­sul­ta­tion, please con­tact us!

And here you will find tips and advice on what good project man­age­ment in non-prof­it orga­ni­za­tions can look like …

How can I help you?

Linda Gugelfuß

Major Donor Consulting & Impact Analysis
+49 30 520 065 329