Whether someone is new to an area or just becoming involved with charitable giving, it can be helpful for them to find an organization or cause they are interested in. There are many resources they can use to explore potential organizations, such as philanthropic advisers, books and websites.
Michelle Blackford, philanthropic adviser at The Cleveland Foundation, and Anita Bradley, president and CEO at Northern Ohio Recovery Association, both in Cleveland, gave suggestions for resources to use.
“When I’m talking to donors, and we do a lot of this, we talk a lot about their passions,” Blackford said. “So exploring within themselves what really excites them.”
If someone is passionate about food or basic human needs, they may want to get involved with a food bank, she pointed out.
Diving into what one is passionate about will help them determine which organization to approach, she said.
“You can do a couple different things,” she said. “You can set up a time to meet with someone at that organization. Organizations are always happy to talk about what they do with especially new people and they usually have opportunities for people to get involved.”
People may also use sites such as GuideStar by Candid, which is an online database of charitable organizations, she suggested.
“Candid would have some information,” she said. “Say, if they’re looking for a list of organizations that service basic human needs, that’s where they want to get involved, Candid has features where you can narrow the search to ‘basic human needs in Cleveland’ or wherever they are.”
Once a person narrows their choices to the organization they’d like to get involved with, they can visit its website to learn more, she said.
“I always like to look at their 990 (form),” Blackford said. “A 990 will tell you where their financial standing is, and then also their annual report will speak to the projects and programs that they offer.”
She further recommended looking into a five-year snapshot of how the organization has grown and to learn about where they receive additional funding from, because that speaks to their capacity to take on more projects or volunteers.
Bradley suggested that prospective donors look into causes that are personal to them, something they have experienced in their personal lives.
“I think it means a lot to feel like you’re contributing towards a cause, so if someone has a special interest in autism or has a family member, give to that cause, whatever it is,” she said.
Resources that Bradley recommended for finding organizations that are important to a person include local magazines and libraries and she said some local publications publish lists of organizations that be worthy of donations.
“Also, in the Hanna Building, there’s a resource library,” she said. “They have a list of local charitable organizations. And then the state department, too.”
Bradley advised that, after finding an organization one would like to contribute to, they can look to their website for contact information of a media and communications or marketing representative. Their website may also offer information such as an annual report, and the programs and services they offer, she added.
“It’s really like doing some research,” she said.