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Thoughtful Giving: Make Sure You're Providing Real Help

When I give money to international agencies that work in developing countries, I worry that my money doesn’t reach the intended recipient. How can I be smart about choosing which programs to support?Paul Sutherland: Don’t enable! Be wise about the consequences of your giving. Investigate who is getting your money, and know specifically how you are helping.My wife, Amy, and I went to Haiti a year ago to review some of the organizations we support, but physically “kicking the tires” is not a requirement to understanding the end result of your charitable giving. Any organization should be able to spend time with you on the phone answering your questions.There are many factors to consider when making charitable contributions, including reviewing a potential recipient’s IRS Form 990 (if it’s a nonprofit organization, this is a public record), the composition of its board of directors, and some measure of stated and real outcomes. Here are a few of the questions Amy and I asked when we were visiting organizations in Haiti: Who is running the organization and who comprises its staff? What exactly does the orga …

About the Author

Paul Sutherland

Paul Sutherland resides in Michigan with his four youngest kids, ages 5 to 10. He and his wife, Amy, try to be an example of Parenting for a Peaceful world, in which democracy begins at home.

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