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How to Give Smartly

With more than 1.5 million charities in the world, how do you tell which ones make the most impact? How do you determine the ones who champion your cause or do the most with your donation? Here are a few tips which may help.

1. Identify the causes important to you and the locations you wish to help. Many causes are represented by charities whose focus is local, statewide, national or worldwide. Once you decide your philanthropic priorities, create a list of charities matching your interests.

One way to do this is to go to Google with keywords which reflect your cause and the area you wish to help. For example: “Feeding Hungry Williamson County” will result in a list of organizations focused on helping food-insecure families in our local communities.

2. Narrow your list by visiting charities’ websites to get a better understanding of their mission. How long have they been in existence? What is their approach toward impacting your cause?

Sites such as evaluates charities and offers an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system. A charity’s finances are examined for efficiency and sustainability. The charity is also checked to ensure it is accountable and transparent. is the world’s largest source of information on nonprofit organizations.

3. A charity’s ability to bring about long-lasting and meaningful change is the key reason for its existence and for your donation. Before contributing, email or talk to the charity’s representative and ask questions. Better yet, visit the charity if it is in your community. Most are happy to give a tour and answer questions.

4. Once you’ve done your due diligence, trust the charity to determine how best to spend your contribution. Giving without strings through unrestricted donations provides the flexibility a charity needs to respond to changing demands for its services.

5. Create a budget and learn the tax benefits of giving. Most charities offer online recurring donation programs for giving monthly or quarterly. Spacing donations throughout the year can boost your overall giving capacity.

6. Follow up with the charity in six months or a year to find out how your money is used. Many charities report their results in an annual report or on their websites. Most have email lists to send information to donors and are on social media making it easier to stay current.

If your cause is helping our neighbors in need, GraceWorks has served local residents since 1995 by providing immediate and long-term resources through multiple programs and services to meet the needs of Williamson County families in crisis situations.

Charity Navigator has given GraceWorks a four star rating. You can view our page on their site. GuideStars has given GraceWorks a Platinum rating—their highest available. See our page here.

We invite you to visit and find out more about us. And, if you’d like to make a financial gift to GraceWorks, you may give online, call us at (615) 794-9055 x121 or email us.

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