For “Giving Tuesday” and Beyond, Where to Give?

Categories: Press Releases

Foundation Source Offers Tips for Evaluating Charities/Nonprofits

FAIRFIELD, Conn., Nov. 13, 2018 – With more than 1.5 million nonprofit organizations in the U.S., how do you determine which ones to support?

In advance of Giving Tuesday (Nov. 27, 2018), Foundation Source, the nation’s largest provider of comprehensive support services to private foundations, has provided the following eight questions donors should consider before donating to a nonprofit:

  1. Does the organization have a clear mission statement?
    Look for specificity. Vague and ambiguous intent (“dedicated to making the world a better place”) often leads to vague, ineffectual action.
  2. Are the nonprofit’s values congruent with your own?
    Let’s say you’re considering a donation to a nonprofit dedicated to reducing urban violence. A closer look reveals that the nonprofit supports tougher gun control laws. Depending on whether you agree with this stance, the nonprofit may or may not be the right fit.
  3. Does the organization meet a vital need?
    To make sure that your funds go to where they are most needed, look for clear evidence regarding the demand for the organization’s services. Do their projects fill an important gap, address a critical need, or solve a pressing problem?
  4. How sound is the nonprofit’s stated approach?
    Do its activities and programs seem likely to advance its mission? Is their “theory of change” based on credible evidence?
  5. Is it the only nonprofit addressing this need?
    Are the organization’s services and programs unique, or are others doing similar work? If there are multiple organizations working in the same sphere, what makes this one especially worthy of support? To compare nonprofits with a similar focus, many donors visit “watchdog” rating sites such as Charity Navigator (
  6. Does the nonprofit provide evidence of its success?
    Although nonprofits often struggle to quantify their outcomes, the organization should have more to offer than a few touching anecdotes. If you don’t see publicized results, consider it a  warning signal.
  7. Who sits on the board?
    Ideally, the board is comprised of a mix of people who support the organization through fundraising and expertise around its mission. It’s a red flag if members of the board are exclusively fundraising “rainmakers” and influential personalities.
  8. Has the organization been tainted by controversy?
    Google the nonprofit’s name to see if it has been in the news. A bad reputation in the nonprofit world, whether or not it’s deserved, can undermine an organization’s effectiveness.

“Learn everything you can about how nonprofit organizations approach their work, fund their efforts, and measure their results,” says Page Snow, chief philanthropic officer of Foundation Source. “Information is the key to ensuring your donation isn’t just a gift, but an investment in progress.”

About Foundation Source (

Foundation Source is the nation’s largest provider of comprehensive support services for private foundations. Our complete outsourced solution includes foundation creation (as needed), administrative support, active compliance monitoring, philanthropic advisory, tax and legal expertise, and online foundation management tools.

Now in our second decade, Foundation Source provides its services to nearly 1,500 family, corporate, and professionally staffed foundations, of all sizes, nationwide. We work in partnership with wealth management firms, law firms, accounting firms, and family offices as well as directly with individuals and families. Foundation Source is headquartered in Fairfield, Connecticut.