Lara Rufus provides guidelines on how to choose the right charity to support.
Shopping for the right charity to support – for some of us – can be a complete nightmare. In the UK alone, there are over 160,000 charities. We’re often bombarded with an entourage of daily mail shots, each apparently having equal importance with an immediate need to meet.
Where do I begin?
Before you think about supporting a charity, whether financially or in kind, it is paramount that you do your research. As Christians, giving to those in need is synonymous with our faith; the two go hand in hand. We are called to be stewards of our resources and, whilst supporting the church financially is a given, supporting the right charity outside of our church can often be a difficult minefield to navigate. Most charities now should be registered with the Charities Commission. (In any case, this is mandatory if they have an annual income over £5k.) This status can easily be checked by typing the charity name into the search box on the website. Information on the charity, such as their annual turnover; their financial health; their aims, mission and objectives, and such like, can be found here. Any investigations carried out on the charity in question can also be found here. Similarly, the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) provides an online search tool to help you find a charity and donate instantly. Through CAF you can automatically increase your donation by up to 25%, and you have the option to donate anonymously. See https://www.cafonline.org/my-personal-giving/start-giving.aspx
What to look for
There are many things one could look out for when researching the right charity to support. Below is a list of things that could help. It is not an exhaustive one, however, but rather an indicator of the type of things to look out for:
• Vision, Mission and Aims: What is their vision, their mission statement, aims and objectives? Is it something that tugs at your heart? Does what they stand for compromise your Christian faith?
• Trustees: Google those on the Trustee and Management board. Are they people of integrity? What are people saying about them? Obviously you can’t believe everything you read, but if several people are saying the same negative thing, then this might be a warning sign.
• Financial History: If the charity has been in existence for a while, check out its financial health. Is it solvent? Where does the majority of its income go? Is it being spent on service delivery? How much are the CEOs being paid? Compare this with how much is being paid to deliver the service. You could also do this for churches that are registered as charities, by going onto the Charities Commission website at http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk, and checking their annual accounts.
Giving to local charities
Hopefully, by doing your due diligence well, you won’t get caught out by unscrupulous charities.
Localgiving.com is an opportunity to boost giving to charities in your local area. Recently launched, it is owned by the Community Foundation Network (CFN) and the Ardbrack Foundation, and dedicated to supporting local charities. All the due diligence has been done for you!
See http://localgiving.com/howitworks/registercharity for further information.