Top 5 Philanthropy Tips to Engage This Year

It is often suggested that you pay attention to how cost effective a charity is. You can do this by looking up the organization on web sites like charity navigator. Charities can be very wasteful and it is well known that in certain large non-profit organizations that the top ranks are paid six figures and fly in corporate jets. Remember, this is your hard earned money and you should strive to do as much good as you can with your donation. 

Second, don’t just focus on your pet cause. This is obviously a personal decision. But just because you like animals doesn’t mean you should always focus your giving on animal related charities. There are plenty of worthy causes out there. Doing more research will reveal them to you. When you are young and money is tight, this might be a hard thing to do. 

Your priorities might change if you own a business that can benefit from your giving. There are plenty of great ideas out there that tie together business and philanthropy. For example, if you own a local pizza restaurant, sponsoring a kids sports team might make sense. Alternatively, if you’re a financial advisor targeting high net worth individuals, signing up for a charity dinners can be a great idea. Both options are great as you do good for both society and your business simultaneously.

Fourth, try to avoid knee jerk giving. One example is when there is a large natural disaster, more often than not, international aid organizations have the situation handled. In these situations, charities are usually overwhelmed with donations and the money ends up not spent on what the donors intended. Likewise, if a canvasser comes to your house asking for money, be wary. If you donate on the spot, you will not be able to do the necessary research.

Finally, eliminate the middlemen. Have you ever received a call from a telemarketer asking for a donation to a charity? Be careful as often these salesmen are compensated with a commission. You want as much of your money as possible to go towards those deserving of charity, not a marketer.

How to Get Involved with a Clean Water Organization

Clean water org

Around 660 million people worldwide are do not have access to clean water. That amounts to nearly twice the population of the United States or 9% of the world’s total population. Having access to clean water is often something that people take for granted. Water can play such a large role in the daily lives of people all over the world. Below are 4 facts about water that may change the way you value water and the many ways that you use it.

  1. Diseases and Infections from the use of dirty water kill more each year than every form of violence, this statistic includes war and combat. Around 40% of those recorded deaths are children ages 5 and younger.
  2. Each year African women spend 40 billion hours fetching water. These hours take away from schooling, food gathering and income-producing work.
  3. With access to clean water stable plumbing, more children, specifically females will be able to attend school and not have to miss 1 week out of every month at home.
  4. 72% of the water collected in Sub-Saharan Africa is carried out by women. Access to clean water can give them their life back.

Why People Need Clean Water

  • Proper hygiene can be maintained with clean water to bath in. Cleaner people means fewer diseases.
  • Over three quarters of disease in underdeveloped countries is waterborne and can be combatted with access to clean water.
  • The less time that people are spending searching for clean water, the more time they have to attend school.
  • More clean water gives people access to safe cooking practices.
  • Economic development can be jumpstarted as every 1$ invest in clean water can yield a return of around 8$ economically.

Addressing The Issue
Charity: water works with local communities worldwide to promote and implement sustainable water solutions to help assure that everyone worldwide has access to clean water. Since Charity: water was founded in 2006, 20,000 projects have been funded which has resulted in 6.3 million people having access to clean water in 24 countries. This includes the installation of new water collection systems and the repairing of old ones. 100% of donations are used to fund projects, since operations expenses are covered privately.

How to Contribute
Donate on a monthly, daily or one time basis. Charity: water accepts checks, stocks, PayPal and cash.
Sponsor an entire water project that will be started or continued at an appropriate location. With a donation of $10,000 or more, an entire community can have access to clean water.
Pledge your birthday to Charity: water, instead of asking your friends and family for gifts, ask them for donations. An average of 38 people get access to water from a birthday campaign.


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Tips to Decipher a Charity’s Legitimacy

Though never ideal, charity scams can often times be more common than current or potential donors would be comfortable coming to terms with. Familiarizing yourself with the various governing bodies that check up on and analyze how these charities operate is a great first step to prevent giving away hard earned dollars to organizations.

1. The IRS Nonprofit Charities Database has a tool called “The Exempt Organizations Select Check Tool”. This tool allows you to enter the name of an organization and see if the organization is exempt or not, which is an important piece of information to know before you donate anywhere. Please bear in mind If the organization is not exempt, your donation will not be tax-deductible.

2. Charity Navigator rates charities based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency to guide individuals to make smart decisions throughout the donation process. Evaluating over eight-thousand charities, it is clear that this organization takes various factors into consideration when producing comprehensive guides for donors. On the off chance that your charity is currently not on the list, be sure to further investigate why this could be the case.

3. GuideStar keeps records of financial documents, such as the 990, which help your current and prospective volunteers evaluate the how legitimate an organization is. The 990 document not only informs donors of how the dollars are allocated, but also sheds light on how the top or upper management officials within the organization are compensated.

4. Charity Watch rates charities on specific criteria such as exposing any sort of abuse or misallocated funds. While advice, articles, and basic information are open to the public, a membership is required to have access into specific charities’ internal structure, spending habits, and other useful information to help you make a decision.

5. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance helps donors in evaluating organizations on particular criteria. Among the twenty standards, some that the organization focus their studies on include oversight, effectiveness, finances, solicitations, and informational materials. If said charity meets the necessary requirements, the philanthropic body would actually earn a point added to their profile. As the score is ranked out of twenty, be sure to keep tabs on how your favorite charity or charities are ranking.

givingWhat Donors Should Keep in Mind:
-Be careful with giving your credit card number over the phone or to an organization that only wants cash donations. If said organization or charity only wants cash donations, investigation is the best way to better understand this process.
-Keep in mind that charities do infact have administrative costs and it is impossible if 100% of the proceeds go to the cause directly.
-Trust your gut feeling, if a certain organization seems strange or a little off, be sure to check up on the charity with any of the governing bodies mentioned above.
-Avoid donating via text as much as you can. It is the least secure way to give money to an organization or charity.
-While donating dollars is always good, donating items such as food, clothing, or other goods is also a wonderful way to get involved with a charity.

A Review: The National Meningitis Association

Meningococcal disease, sometimes called bacterial meningitis, is a potentially fatal bacterial infection that can cause death or disability within hours. The effects of this disease can be devastating to those infected and their families, but the good news is: it can be prevented through proper vaccination.

The National Meningitis Association (NMA) is a nonprofit organization that was founded by parents whose children have died or live with permanent disabilities because of meningococcal disease. They make it their mission to educate families, medical professionals, and the general public about the disease and its prevention.

Beyond education, the NMA also provides a network of emotional support for affected families, and raises awareness of other preventable diseases and recommended vaccinations they believe the public has a right to be aware of.


NMA began in 2002, when there was little public awareness about meningococcal disease. Vaccination was not yet recommended, and there were no formal support structures available for affected families. It started with just a handful of parents whose families experienced firsthand the true impact of meningococcal disease. That small group of dedicated parents quickly grew into a national organization that advocates for meningococcal disease awareness and prevention on both a national and grassroots level.

NMA - Logo

Since then, the NMA has worked tirelessly, resulting in a number of important changes:

  1. Vaccination is now recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for all preteens and teens as well as those of other ages with risk factors for the disease.
  2. Many states now require vaccination for adolescents; others require that families and college students be educated about prevention.
  3. Vaccination rates have climbed steadily in recent years while disease incidence has declined.
  4. Research and development are in progress to improve prevention options.
  5. NMA is proud to have played a role in increasing meningococcal disease awareness and vaccination rates.

Facts About the Disease and Prevention

According to NMA, approximately 600 – 1,000 people contract meningococcal disease in the U.S. each year. Though this number is at a historical low, it is still a major public health concern because contraction leads to death in 10-15 percent of cases. Among those who survive, as many as 20 percent live with permanent disabilities, such as brain damage, hearing loss, loss of kidney function, or limb amputations.

Adolescents and young adults are among those at the greatest risk for contracting the disease, with 21 percent of all meningococcal disease cases occurring in preteens, teens and young adults ages 11–24.

Prevention as well as speedy diagnosis is critical, as symptoms often mimic the flu or other viral infections. Every minute left undiagnosed and not properly treated puts patients at greater risk of suffering severe disability or death.

Important Statistics

While the rarity of the disease might dissuade some from taking it as seriously as they should, there are a number of important statistics to keep in mind when planning for your child’s or your own immunizations.

  1. 1 in 5 U.S. teens have not yet received their first dose of the meningococcal vaccination against serogroups A, C, W and Y and remain unprotected.
  2. Less than one-third of first dose recipients have received the recommended booster dose.
  3. Newer vaccines, recommended in 2015, can help protect those age 16-23 against meningococcal serogroup B, which the most common cause of disease in adolescents and young adults.


NMA volunteers come from a variety of backgrounds. Some are parents or family members of disease victims, some are meningococcal disease survivors themselves. Most have personally  been affected by meningococcal disease. All are committed to sharing their stories in order to bring awareness to the disease and allow others have an opportunity to make informed decisions about immunization. They also encourage you to share your story.

Within the NMA umbrella are several factions of supporters:

M.O.M.s (Moms on Meningitis) is a coalition of more than 50 mothers from across the country who lost children or whose children’s lives were drastically affected by meningococcal disease.

T.E.A.M. (Together Educating About Meningitis) includes meningococcal disease survivors, siblings and other family members of those who have been affected by the disease.


The National Meningitis Association (NMA) receives funding in the form of individual donations, foundation donations, and unrestricted educational grants from corporations, including pharmaceutical companies. Though NMA maintains independence and control over all program and editorial content. You can donate here.

Official Recommendations

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine vaccination against four of five major meningococcal disease serogroups at age 11-12 (serogroups A, C, W and Y) with a booster at age 16. Young adults between 16 and 23 years old should also ask a healthcare provider about vaccination against serogroup B.

The The National Meningitis Association has made a huge impact on public awareness, public policy, and the course of this horrible disease. With the continued efforts of their dedicated volunteers, hopefully they can ensure the awareness and availability of vaccination for all children, young adults, and those at risk for contracting the disease. No individual or family should have to deal with the uncertainty and devastation that comes with it.