With all the news and pictures of the effects of Hurricane Harvey, I’ve been impressed with the number of corporate businesses that have pledged to donate and match employee/customer donations. Based on a recent CNN article, businesses have donated over $72 million to Harvey relief efforts! Wow, that is very inspiring. If you work for a large corporation, check out the list to see if your company is matching donations. If you don’t work for a large company, you can still make an impact by donating your own funds or finding small businesses who have philanthropic missions, including Rockstar Community Fund and Guy On Fire (*Guy is matching through September 1st! Act now and read rules.) If you are overwhelmed with information and not sure where to donate, keep reading to learn the top three reasons why I chose to donate to the non-profit that I did.
I wanted to do more research before I committed to my donation. I wanted to maximize the impact of my donation after seeing a sign at Whole Foods that Amazon and Whole Foods Market would match up to $1 million total to the American Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey Relief. It would make me feel useful if a $100 donation would automatically mean an extra $100. However, when I went online later that night, I found that Amazon had already received $1 million and would no longer be matching, but encouraged people to still donate. I still wanted to donate, but wanted to find another company that would do matching. It appears that most of the big companies like Amazon and Google have completed their match. I wasn’t sure where else to start looking until…
A former colleague who now works for uBack posted a great reference on how to help the local nonprofits that need the most help. After reading the list, I felt confident that I wanted to donate to the Houston Food Bank after learning three important factors.
How to Decide Where to Donate Money:
- Only 5% of all their resources are used for administrative costs.
- They prefer money over food, because they can stretch your dollar through partnerships with the food industry. For every dollar donated, they are able to obtain and distribute $6 in food! In other words, $100 donation = $600 worth of food, providing 300 meals!
- They received a 4 star ranking (out of 4), scoring 100 in both financial and accountability & transparency on Charity Navigator.
After you’ve donated, be sure to keep track of your receipts to help with tax time.
How to Keep Track of Charitable Donations:
- According to a recent IRS recordkeeping rule, you need to obtain and keep a bank record or a written communication from the donee as a record of the contribution. (Examples of bank records: bank statement, cancelled checks, or credit card statements.)
- Personal notations and check registers that you prepare as the donor are not sufficient.
- Be sure your donation receipt has the words, “You received no goods or services from this contribution.“
As I have learned working with many small business owners, a company can have a great mission and great products/services, but not be financially sound. If you have been hesitant to donate to larger, well-known non-profit organizations because you’re not sure how your money is being used, I highly encourage you to check out charitynavigator.org. Look up the charity’s financials and find out what percentage of every dollar received is used for relief. Keep in mind, every business, small or large, has operating expenses. Most likely, not every dollar received can go directly to help the victims. Instead, the goal is to find non-profit organizations that keep their costs low, use most of the donations to help those in need, and can articulate how much of total donations were used to directly help the cause. With the right information, I truly believe that one person…one business…and even one dollar can make a difference.