First off, ask yourself what you are passionate about. There are charitable organizations supporting every possible cause you could imagine, and then some. Try to identify two to three causes that you really care about, and then decide upon 3 or so organizations within each niche that you seem to like. Visit their respective websites and soak up as much as you can about the organizations.
How do they approach their cause and how effective have they been in achieving their goals in the past? These are two very important questions you should be trying to answer.
Charitable giving is a type of investment, so you should be doing the proper amount of research before your make your donation.
Charities are a big business. In fact, some estimates estimate charitable giving in the United States surpassed the $350 billion mark in 2014. While the vast majority of these charities are trustworthy organizations working to make the world a better place, there are certainly a few bad apples (as is the case in any industry).
These ill-intentioned charities seem to pop up with alarming frequency after natural disasters. They have become especially prevalent with the advent of the internet where people often whimsically give to GoFundMe or other crowd funding sites. Keep in mind that if the charity is claiming 100% of donated funds make its way to charity, then it is most likely a scam. This simply isn’t possible with the coordination and administrative costs.
After you have selected a few prospective charities and completed a surface-level investigation on each, it is time to vet them with the online guides. Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and the Wise Giving Alliance (from the Better Business Bureau) are all great online tools. Each service provides financial information letting you know if an organization is trustworthy and has a rating system judging the efficacy of each charity.
Giving to charity is a big commitment. Be sure to take the time to do your research to find an honest organization that supports a cause you are passionate about.