You know the drill. A client mentions a specific charity in the community and asks you whether that charity is reputable and effective. That's a tough question to answer! You're not in a position to know the ins and outs of how charities in the community are being managed.
Fortunately, the team at the Community Foundation can help you. It's our job to know the superstars in the nonprofit community. There are very few nonprofit organizations we've not worked with over the years. So, when you get a question like that from a client, the first step is to call us! Your clients will be relieved to know that they are working with an attorney, accountant, or financial advisor who knows experts on matters in the community.
In addition, you can offer a client a few simple pointers to get started checking out charities on their own.
1. Tell your client to consider the source. Your talk track can go something like this: "If it’s a friend, colleague, or a neighbor asking you to support a cause she knows and loves, you can be more confident in your contribution. Ask about the organization to find out whether it’s a fit for you. Don’t worry—you won’t offend your friend by asking questions. Instead, your interest in the cause your friend is marketing will give her a chance to tell the story about how that organization is making a social impact. Spreading the word is a good thing!"
2. Suggest that your client start with something other than money. You can say something like the following: "Giving money to a charity is not the only way to do good. Supporting causes includes a wide range of other activities, such as recycling, volunteering, serving on boards, donating canned goods or clothing, attending community events, marketing a favorite nonprofit, sharing with friends and families in need, purchasing brands that support causes, and caring for your own health and wellness. So, if you are uncomfortable with a monetary contribution, do something else for the charity you’re being asked to support. Volunteer for an hour or two, donate household items, or attend one of the charity’s events by buying a ticket instead of making an outright donation. These activities give you a chance to check things out."
3. Encourage your client to go online. Here's what you can say: "Of course, you should check out the charity online. Giving is big business, and charities today know they need to report compelling information on their websites about the difference they’re making with your dollars."
No matter how your client chooses to create social impact, every act of doing good counts, especially when the client is supporting the causes the client loves the most.
Finally, remember that the Community Foundation is here for you. Our mission is to increase charitable giving in the community, connect donors to causes, and lead on critical community issues to improve the quality of life in our region, now and in the future. We look forward to helping you and your clients shine!