'Every Community Is Affected': How To Choose Charities When You're In A Position To Give
Federal stimulus money is coming to Hampton Roads. And some people want to know how to use that money to give back to those in greater need because of COVID-19.
WHRV's Paul Bibeau spoke with Professor Una Osili, a professor at Indiana University, to understand how to think about charitable giving.
Listen to their conversation, and find a full transcript below.
Paul Bibeau (PB): Thank you Professor Osili for joining us today.
Una Osili (UO): Thank you for having me.
PB: Say I’m someone in a strong financial situation, and I want to help someone else with the stimulus funds that are coming in, and I want to assess charities. Where should I start?
UO: Well, thanks for that question. The good news is that there are a lot of resources available online. For many donors helping locally can be an important way of giving back during this time. And several United Way and community foundations have actually initiated COVID-19 relief funds at the community level, and this is an excellent way to get involved. However, there are also local charities that the donor might have a relationship with. I think starting locally is important, because it allows the donor to see what those needs are and to see the impact on the ground. I also think there are global and national opportunities to get involved. The CDC, the Center for Disease Control, has a foundation, and there are also many organizations that are working across countries. The key is for everyone to really think about how they can have an impact, both in their own communities, but also across the nation and the world, because everyone and every community is affected by this pandemic.
PB: What are the most useful metrics to understand charities?
UO: I think there is a tendency to focus mostly on the financial aspect, in other words, how is the organization using its resources, but it’s also important to look at impact measurement, in other words to what extent is the organization making a difference in the lives of others. And here you can use metrics that are already established. For example, Charity Navigator is a website that has a number of indicators. But there are also newer organizations. Givewell.org is an example, and they allow you to see how the organization is actually having a measurable impact. In other words, if the organization is designed to help people find jobs, to what extent are people successful in finding jobs. So the outcomes are also important to look at.
PB: Okay, so let’s say I zero in on a couple of candidates, right, for charities. Are there questions that I should go back and ask myself about my own values at this point? How do you look inside?
UO: I often encourage donors and potential donors to think about what matters to them the most, and for many people, they have, we have something that we call a philanthropic autobiography, and think about causes that have mattered to your family or to your community, whether that’s say, children or the environment or art. Fortunately, a lot of information is on the web. You can look at the charity’s website and in particular not just look at the financial, but look at the impact they’re having in the community.
PB: Proferro Osili is an Associate Dean for Research and International Programs at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philathropy. Thank you so much for joining us.
UO: Thank you for having me. I appreciate it. All the best to you and your listeners.