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ImpactMatters has been acquired by Charity Navigator.

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Tips and information on effective giving

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Donors

The Counterfactual

You are walking down the street to get to an appointment a mile away. Walking there should take you 20 minutes. A friend drives by, sees you, and gives you a lift. Instead of taking 20 minutes, you now get there in 5 minutes. Would you have gotten to your destination even if you didn’t get the ride? Chances are, yes. If you were to measure the impact of your friend's intervention in your journey, they wouldn't get credit for getting you to your destination (since you would have gotten there without them). But — your friend would deserve credit ...

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Categories: Understanding Impact

Donors

Tips for Researching Nonprofits

There are over a million nonprofits in the United States. Even if you have a specific cause in mind (for example, food banks), a Google search can bring up thousands of nonprofits. How do you choose one that will use your donation effectively? In this post, we provide some tips for finding a nonprofit you can feel confident giving to.

These tips are suitable for donors at any stage of their giving:

  • Discovering which causes to support? Start at Choose a Cause.
  • If you’ve homed in on a cause but need guidance on how to find a nonprofit working ...

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Categories: Effective Giving

Nonprofits

Tips for Reporting Impact

Good impact reporting means precisely and transparently sharing the difference you made in the lives of those you serve. It's a fundamental responsibility of nonprofits as stewards entrusted with not only donors’ gifts but also beneficiaries’ welfare. Carrying out this responsibility engages stakeholders at a deeper level, strengthening their commitment to your mission. Impact reporting is also an opportunity for honest, fact-based learning about what works and doesn’t work — so you can advance your mission even further next year.

Nonprofits often struggle to report impact well. We’ve rounded up the most common but non-obvious missteps of reporting impact. Below, ...

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Donors

5 Ways to Choose How Much to Give

How much should I give? It’s a tough question. What can I afford? What should I sacrifice? There isn’t a single answer, but there are some strategies for making the decision. Here are five approaches:

1. Give what other people think you should

Ideas42, a firm that uses insights from the behavioral sciences to address complex social problems, surveyed 500 people about the average household in their neighborhood. They asked, “What percent of their total income do you think they should give to charity this year?” The average answer: 6 percent of yearly income.

They found some other interesting ...

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Categories: Effective Giving

Donors

Stop Worrying About Nonprofit Fraud

Stories of nonprofit waste and fraud are often top of mind when making decisions about whether and where to give. A survey of people with high net worth found that the most common reason they don’t donate more to charity is out of fear that their gift “will not be used wisely.” It’s something we, as charity researchers, are often asked about, and we get it. Making a donation is a highly personal decision. You wouldn’t want to risk sending your hard-earned money to a duplicitous organization. To those concerned by fraud in the nonprofit sector, we have good news. ...

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Donors

The Narrative vs. the Numbers

Why research matters when choosing nonprofits

As donors, many of us are instantly drawn to stories and images — something to help us grasp the otherwise hard-to-fathom circumstances of those experiencing ill health, poverty, and injustice. But fixating on the narrative alone can result in serious blind spots. In this post, we discuss what stories are good for — and where they fall short.

Research shows that a vivid story about a single beneficiary can cause donors to donate more than if they had been presented with a statistic about, say, a thousand beneficiaries being helped. One thousand is clearly a lot more than one beneficiary. ...

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Categories: Effective Giving

Donors

Protecting Yourself From Scams

Chances are that you’ve been at the end of a scam phone call. With the rise of VoIP and internet-based calling platforms, it’s never been easier for someone to try prying personal information from you. While rare, there are groups out there that will even pose as charities to attempt to fraudulently raise money over the phone or by sending phishing emails. Sometimes they do so without the nonprofit knowing anything. With the giving season fast approaching, how can you protect yourself? 

Here are our tips for avoiding fraud when donating.

1. Don’t give money over the phone

Pretty simple. ...

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Categories: Understanding Impact

Donors

Why Isn't the Nonprofit I'm Interested in Rated?

We rate a nonprofit when we have enough information to estimate the change it’s made in people’s lives. There are a few possible reasons we couldn’t do that for the nonprofit you’re interested in. 

Does the nonprofit do work like research or advocacy? 

Nonprofits that seek systems change through advocacy, research or similar activities may be highly effective, but they are much harder to measure. The link between the nonprofit’s work and the final outcome is longer, and often there are alternate explanations for why that particular piece of legislation passed or those minds changed. We do not (yet) have ...

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Donors     Researchers     Nonprofits

What We Learned About Food Distribution

As a team, we’ve spent the past few months digging into hunger alleviation nonprofits — food banks, food pantries, and soup kitchens — to understand their impact. We have a few takeaways. Most importantly, food distribution is a good bang for your buck. Of the 305 nonprofits we analyzed, a massive 265 provide a meal to a person in need at less than 75 percent of the price of a regular meal in their community, thus earning them 5 stars.

A brief recap of our process. We set out to estimate how many dollars it took food banks, food pantries ...

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Categories: What We Learned...

Donors     Researchers     Nonprofits

What We Learned About Tree Planting

There’s not a lot we could write here about the threat of climate change that hasn’t already been said. Higher temperatures, more destructive storms, disruption of food systems — the list goes on. But nonprofits have risen to the challenge, whether by getting individuals to adopt greener habits or advocating for change on the global stage.

The ImpactMatters research team focused first on nonprofits that are battling climate change one tree at a time, including reforestation nonprofits (which target areas that were once forested) and urban forestry nonprofits (which plant trees in cities). The measurable environmental benefit stems from the ...

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Categories: What We Learned...