Making The Most Impact With Your Charitable Giving
Ask just about any nonprofit what they need funding for most, and it would very likely be General Operating support. It’s sort of the ongoing push and pull with any development team within a nonprofit to find a balance where you can both please your constituents who donate and sustain your business, because a nonprofit is a business that still has the usual expenses as a for-profit—rents, salaries, utilities, IT costs—and those are also the least appealing expenses to many funders.
What is most appealing of course are the programs, usually whatever is tied to a nonprofit’s mission. In the case of Food Finders, it’s our food rescue program, which is our core effort, along with our sub-programs such as feeding kids, hosting food hubs and providing nutrition education. These direct extensions of our goal to eliminate hunger and food waste provide the positive outcomes that we are more than happy to share. It’s the reward that makes us all feel good about working for, volunteering at, and supporting the organization.
But how can a nonprofit sustain its programs if it can’t afford the rent or the program manager’s salary? Like we sometimes say, we can’t pay our electric bill with a case of donated bananas, so it takes a diverse stream of revenue to keep our programs going and growing.
And then there’s the other side of the matter, which is the ever-changing financial climate. Some years, interest levels and income plummet from investments, and nonprofits that prosper from robust contributions based on investment income are left scrambling to rethink their fundraising plans. Foundations that might have generously donated in years past may have to limit their grantmaking or individuals with previously thriving portfolios might rethink their charitable giving.
In 2020, the economic recession that nobody saw coming due to a pandemic left analysts predicting that a third of nonprofits would close. The actual outcome is still being determined, but while many nonprofits that focused on human services saw an increase of emergency support, others suffered setbacks as their programs were made less of a priority, particularly those in the arts or education. Of those that stayed open, a huge percentage were heavily burdened with increased demand.
So, what makes supporting nonprofits a Win-Win, for the donor and organization? Consider these options:
–Join a monthly giving program to spread your dollars across the year and allow them to be spent as needed, like The Share Table. You’ll still receive a charitable deduction come tax time.
–Set up a Donor Advised Fund, a tax benefit that can include cash, stock and other assets as designated.
–Designate funding as Unrestricted, so a nonprofit can spend the dollars prudently where they are most needed and fill in any gaps that program-directed funds don’t cover.
—Corporate sponsorships are always welcome, along with employee giving campaigns, which benefit a company’s image and morale while showing the community some local support via the charity of choice.
Bottom line, it’s important is to know your dollars are wisely earned and spent, and transparency is key, which is why one of Food Finders’ core values is Integrity. For a good source on where to cast your philanthropic net, consider Charity Navigator, which provides current ratings and complete financial profiles of hundreds of nonprofits.