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Non Profit Donation - How to Make the Biggest Impact

Updated on February 18, 2011

The benefits of making a non profit donation are threefold: Non profit donations help others, they make you feel great, and they're also a tax writeoff!  Donating to charity is exceedingly fun, especially as there are so many ways one can help, but some non profit charities make a greater impact than others, and certain ways of donating will also be better you personally, both mentally and financially.  Below, I'll walk you through the basics of donating to non profit organizations to help you make the greatest impact posible.

Charity relieving Distress by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788)
Charity relieving Distress by Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) | Source

Step 1: Choosing a Cause

As there are so many ways you can give back, a great first step when making non profit donations is to choose a cause you'd like to support.  This helps to narrow down your search and not be so overwhelmed - plus, choosing a cause in which you have a true emotional investment will make this process both meaningful and fun.

Here are some ideas to help you narrow your scope of benevolence:

  • Environmentalism
  • Cancer
  • Children
  • World hunger / nutrition
  • Your local community
  • Women's rights
  • A specific country or city in need
  • A specific religion
  • Education
  • Scientific research
  • Technology
  • Animal shelters / Animal rights
  • Historical research
  • Human rights 
These are only some starting points! If you have a hobby, interest, or passion in which you're rather involved, chances are there is some sort of nonprofit associated with it to which you can donate time, money, or supplies.


Step 2: Choosing a Nonprofit

Once you have chosen a specific cause that you would like to support, it is time to select a specific organization to which you would like to donate money.  When choosing an organization, it is important to not only go with one is legitimate, but one that you can trust to actually funnel your charity donation toward the cause.

You might think that this is a given, but consider how much some nonprofit organizations spend on marketing campaigns, galas, staffing, and large mailings.  If you do not want your donation to go toward sending out junk mail or paying for office rental, you should check to see if there is any information on exactly how your donation will be used.

Some non profit charities give you a percentage figure of how much of your donation will go toward the actual cause (e.g. 93% of your donation will go directly toward treating cancer patients); others are even more transparent, and you have the option to add your money to a funding pool for a specific project (this is the case with DonorsChoose, EurekaFund, and FundScience, for example).

Just be sure that you're aware of exactly where your donation will be going and that you are comfortable with how this non profit charity handles its finances.

Step 3: Donating Properly

You might think that the actual action of making a non profit donation is easy - you just send over money, right?  

As it happens, there is a little bit more to keep in mind if you want your donation to make the greatest impact possible.  One way in which you can be extra useful with your donation is to keep timing in mind - there are certain times when donations flood into some charities, and they are not so in need, and then there are seasons and times when many charities are struggling to keep their efforts alive.  

Do some research to find out when your help is most needed.  Many soup kitchens, for example, are flooded with so many offers of help around the holidays that they actually have to turn volunteers away, but during the rest of the year, they are hard up for assistance.  If you help out during a non profit charity's "off season," you can make an even bigger difference. 

If you are donating supplies instead of volunteering services or cash, make sure that they are clean, neatly packed, and in workable condition.  Clothing should be clean and free of wrinkles and holes; delicate items should be carefully packed in paper or bubble wrap to prevent breakage, etc...

One final note about making a donation: To be sure that you get a tax writeoff for making your donation, be sure that the non profit donation you give is to a 501 C(3) organization, and also be sure to hold on to your paperwork.

FEMA donating printers
FEMA donating printers | Source

Step 4: Making the Most of Your Giving

Once you've donated to one non profit charity, you are only getting started!  One of the best ways to continue to make the most of your charitable giving (aside from being regular about it and making sure you're filing for the tax credits you deserve) is to mix things up and keep the doantion process fresh and exciting.  Don't donate the same way all the time - consider donating a mixture of money, supplies, clothing, time, bandwidth, blood, and knowledge, and try to work with several different non profit organizations and causes.

Doing so will ensure that you continue to learn new things, help new people, and feel as though you're truly making a difference.

Happy donating!


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    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 4 years ago from San Francisco

      You make a great point, Philanthropyedge. Thanks for stopping by!

    • Philanthropyedge profile image

      Kimberly Brock 4 years ago from Lakeland, Fl

      Thanks for the great hub! Donations of time and expertise are also great for nonprofits, so everyone is capable of giving. Thanks for helping to encourage and engage people in the nonprofit sector!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks Happyboomernurse! What an awesome thing your friend is doing! It would be wonderful to have the opportunity to donate money to a charity in which close friends are involved... at least then one has a stronger understanding of the organization's inner workings and responsibility.

    • Happyboomernurse profile image

      Gail Sobotkin 6 years ago from South Carolina

      Great hub with many useful tips about making donations to nonprofits. My friend is about to start a nonprofit organization to do spiritual outreach to abused women so I know where some of my own donations will be going next year.

      Thanks for sharing this info.

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for visiting, jean2011! Yeah, I'm a big fan of a lot of nonprofits. They really are making a lot of positive changes, and one can find a nonprofit to cater to almost every cause imaginable.

    • jean2011 profile image

      jean2011 6 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for writing this hub about non-profit organizations! These organizations are making invaluable contributions to our world; and sometimes they are forgotten by those who are good positions to make worthwhile contributions.