Helping Donors Ensure Their Grants Make a Difference

In our monthly column from Karen Minogue, Waccamaw Wisdom, we unpack the latest in philanthropy and offer tips to make your giving more effective. Topic suggestions welcome at communications@mywcf.org.

During the recent holiday season, many of us were flooded with phone calls and letters requesting contributions to various charitable organizations—and we responded. In fact, the National Philanthropic Trust reports that a whopping 71 percent of total charity giving came from individuals in 2015, with contributions averaging about $3,000 per household.

When people give, they should be certain that the charity is reputable and that the contribution—big or small—will have the greatest impact. That’s where Waccamaw Community Foundation can help.

As a fundholder at Waccamaw Community Foundation (WCF), we can help you support any 501(c)(3) public charity in the United States, including governmental, educational, and religious institutions. WCF exercises due diligence to make sure grants from your fund are given to organizations that have met 501(c)(3) IRS requirements.

There are several free charity search websites that can quickly pull information, data and ratings on nonprofits such as GuideStar, Charity Navigator and CharityWatch. These websites will give you a general overview of an organization’s financial health and budget breakdown.

However, if you don’t have time to do the research, you can use WCF to help you filter through charities to help your gifts make a difference. Whatever cause you choose to support, WCF is your trusted resource in connecting you with causes you care about.

As a donor-advised fundholder, we can help you:

• Identify a charity or charities whose mission you believe in. If it’s a local nonprofit or a national organization with programs in your community, you can volunteer your time or go in person to see some of the programming in action. We can even set up an appointment to go with you. In the meantime, you can check out the agency’s website as well as independent reviews and evaluations.

• See how your donation fits into the bigger picture. We’ll give you an overview of an organization’s financial health and budget breakdown.

• Assess the impact of the charity’s work and its impact on people’s lives. Make sure it’s a legitimate, reputable charity. We’ll do the background checks to be sure it is a tax-exempt organization registered with the Internal Revenue Service by reviewing its Form 990. Among other resources as mentioned above, we use GuideStar, the industry standard for community foundations. Although anyone can gather basic information about a nonprofit organization for free at GuideStar, WCF subscribes to GuideStar’s advanced search and analysis tools to help ensure that every grant you recommend is put to the best possible use.

We make it easy to achieve your charitable goals. Let us help you focus on establishing a lasting giving legacy. To learn more, call Karen Minogue at 843-357-4483 or email her at karenm@mywcf.org.

Photo caption: Kathleen Burroughs, a WCF fund representative, visiting Kaminski House and other Georgetown County nonprofits on a site visit day in November 2016.