Thousands of charities are created each day in the world. We are bombarded from charity uniformed enthusiasts crossing our paths on the high street, to plastic bags slipped through our letterboxes. With social networks being the fastest way to circulate awareness, let's really think for a second about where we are donating our ever-decreasing money, and what are the results (if there are any) from your money. As the daughter of a former charity director, carted around every fundraising event since I was eight-years-old, here are some handy tips. His charity raised millions in that time - all down to a few, honest pointers:
How much out of the pound goes to real cause?
The answer should be over 80p out of £1. If it's under this or you're given a waffled answer, even if they're newly formed, they haven't got results from what they're trying to achieve. 'Administration work' should not be an excuse to lower the percentage rate of what goes straight to the cause - unless this is a counselling service - in which case - you need to pay people for their services. Start-up charities begin with volunteers and clever events should pay immediately for the cause - there should be no mention of 'breaking even'. The bigger they get the more the administration will be covered without the actual cause suffering.
Is their aim a simple need with a simple solution?
The more a charity needs to explain itself, the less likely it is to have effective results from your money. The message should be brutally simple; the message understood within a sentence. Amnesty International fight for human rights and tells you where your money will help, with case studies proving the effects of passed donations. There's a reason why they're successfully helping the cause. The more complex or fluffy the aim, the more likely your money won't be put to good use. They need to focus on a particular niche, a particular set of people or a particular illness or scenario - it shouldn't be looking at curing the entire world, or changing an entire nation. The more focused the charity - the better. The Red Cross, The British Heart Foundation, CoppaFeel, Cancer Research Uk, MIND, Childline - all have their own, particular focus; a simple need. Not 20.
Do they have a measurable scale and tangible results from your donations? E.g:
£5 will pay for a pair of protective shoes for a leprosy patient
£10 will pay for a hen given to a family to provide them with eggs (food)
£100 will pay for a new home for a homeless person in India
It should be measureable - just like money. You can request annual reports.
Do the staff and directors of the charity donate their personal money to the charity?
Because if they don't, why should you? My father paid back a third of his wage each month into the charity. He already had below the average wage. If they avoid that question, find someone else to give your hard earnings to.
What was their business plan from day one and what have they achieved so far? What is their three year plan? Five year plan? Ten year plan?
Don't donate to a charity that doesn't stick to its goals or change their ideas every four weeks. Chasing celebrities around for exposure or hoping to raise 'a lot of money' is not a business plan. What tangible visions do they have?
What's the infrastructure of the charity?
In order for a charity to thrive, there needs to be a board of directors, a group of trustees, (preferably more than 10) who can control the business strategies. They should be experts from their leading fields, and these fields should be different from each other. They should independent to the owner/director/founder. They shouldn't be relying solely on interns or volunteers. You need people with business acumen, accounts, PR, fundraising, digital marketing gurus. The board can also ensure the work ethic and politics are kept in shape within the organisation. A steering group avoids ego, irrationality or losing the sentiment of why a charity started in the first place.
How long will your money be in use?
Paying for clean water is all very well in a poverty ridden country, but paying towards a well, goes further. Really think about how long your money will last for these projects. Workshops to improve someone's attitude may be effective for a day or so, but how can you measure that and how long will that last? Really think about your money and how it's going to be used.
Anyone can set up a charity, the key to which one you donate to is in the strategy, in the people who represent it themselves (are they sincere, believable people, who reflect the mission statement in themselves?), with proof and tangible results that can prove their long term success. There are plenty of brilliant charities out there that can answer the above questions within seconds, can prove their success from day one which will give you confidence to provide the fundraiser on the street with your direct debit details.
If you can't afford to fork out the money for monthly payments, ask them how you can donate your time. If it's a good charity, they'll be chasing your tail to tell you how you can help.
Follow Carrie Lloyd on Twitter: www.twitter.com/carriegracey