What is Begin Giving all about?

Begin Giving wants to help you choose where to donate your money based on your interests while also highlighting charities that are often underrepresented and overlooked.

How do you choose the charities you feature?

 We choose the charities that we work with based on a few different factors.

It might be that we have a personal relationship with the charity because we have worked with them in some capacity in the past. (many of us have backgrounds in international development, social work, health care, and non-profit management). It might also be that we know someone that has worked the featured organization who can vouch for them. We also base our feature charities on their track record for producing good work – if they can show us through a visit that they can meet their goals, we are happy to highlight their work on Begin Giving.

What are your criteria for choosing that featured charity?

 Trusting people to do good work plays a significant role in how we determine who we feature on Begin Giving. We might personally visit a charity to see the work they are doing in their communities or have them show us reports and documentation about the work there are doing. More importantly, what we DON’T do is follow guidelines set by charity watch organizations that tend to exclude non-profits outside of the United States.

What do you have against Charity Watch Websites?

For some individuals, corporations, and grant makers, it is valuable to follow guidelines regarding charitable giving and financial accountability for not only tax purposes, but for reporting to their boards or shareholders. But, for those of us who are looking to get involved with a cause they relate to our interests and concerns about the world, charity watchdog sites are not going to show us the whole picture. Often the standards to be included on their websites difficult or impossible for many charities to meet – and overall, the rating system is unfair and biased towards larger charities or charities that are willing to focus on the time, energy, and funds on getting their charity ratings up.

Also, charity watchdog websites tend to ask charities the same questions over and over again, and for many organizations that are doing fantastic work around the world, they don’t fit into that box. And when they don’t fit into the box, they might not get a quality rating, which will greatly affect donors decisions to support them.

Furthermore, charities that are based in the United States that work in the United States and non-profit organizations based in the United States that work internationally are recognized –  but for those organizations that are found outside of the U.S. working in their own countries to help people are excluded. We firmly believe that focusing attention on charities that work within their communities because they are the experts as to what issues are most pressing and we don’t want to see them overlooked anymore.

Lastly, charity rating websites don’t tell a whole non-profits story. They are based on Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency, but numbers don’t reflect the actual good work in all cases. In today’s age, storytelling through pictures, video, and conversations with the local leaders and changemakers who are doing the work on the ground goes a long way, and we want to show them off to the world.

 So you think you are an expert on this?

We don’t, but we have some experience in the field.

When you say “charities that are not underrepresented, what do you mean?

We mean charities that aren’t registering on charity watchdog websites, charities that don’t often appear in Google searches, and charities that are not regularly featured in other news outlets or on social media because they are located in remote locations.

 So why charities that otherwise aren’t getting recognition?

Because they are the ones that deserve recognizing the most — they don’t have the budget for marketing, communications, and often times, don’t have the technology to produce online content. We don’t want them to miss out on opportunities to be recognized and find donors who wish to support their work.

 So, donating to charity not just about getting a tax break?

 Donating to charity is personal – it should be about your interests only. What causes are important to you? Are you in it for the tax break or do you just want to give back to society or both? Make up your own mind – but do remember that if it is solely about getting a tax break is not going to make you feel better about donating to charity – donating to a charity that you care about and gives you meaning is what will make the difference in your life.