With year-end giving season around the corner, the rallying cry of community organizations gets louder and louder.

Email inboxes will soon be filled with appeals from nonprofits you support, and mail boxes will be stuffed with postcard reminders to give back before December 31. Your social media feeds can feel particularly swamped with heartfelt requests for funding.

The political uncertainty of the past year did not restrain but rather motivated charitable giving. Thanks to strong market performance and tax reform uncertainty leading into 2018, the potential is real for an even higher record of donations in 2017, compared to $390.05 billion of giving in 2016.

Despite the hubbub, it’s important to recall basic evaluation measures that can be helpful in deciding where to direct the most impactful philanthropic gifts during year-end.

Checking out your favorite nonprofit on Guidestar and Charity Navigator is a great first step, where you can review an organization’s mission, outcomes and financials. With the sixth annual #GivingTuesday fast approaching on November 28, the two organizations have recently partnered to provide even more transparency around governance and financial management.

Feeling confident about an organization’s own reported information is also important before recommending a grant or making a gift.

The San Diego Foundation can help you evaluate an organization’s 990 tax return, or in today’s digital age, you can also visit a nonprofit’s website, Facebook page and/or Twitter account. Below are questions to consider as you review an organization’s online presence:

  • Does the website clearly describe the organization’s mission, background, leadership team, and program achievements? Is the annual report available for download, including financials?
  • Does the Facebook page help you better understand the nonprofit’s work, clients served, and/or sector? Is the content engaging and updated on a consistent basis? Does the messaging resonate with you personally?
  • Does the Twitter feed enable you to learn more about the nonprofit’s work? Do its “tweets” help inform your thinking around a particular issue or topic related to the group’s mission?

Prior to finalizing your donation, a helpful list of reminders can be found here, including rule number five: “Give When You Are Ready”.  While year-end tax incentives have relatively modest impact on overall giving, they definitely affect the timing of giving, as more than 20% of all annual online donations occur in the last two days of the year.

For donors who are seeking to make a gift prior to year-end, below are The San Diego Foundation’s charitable giving and grantmaking deadlines:

  • December 21, Noon: Grant recommendations must be made for grant checks to be processed before year-end.
  • December 22, Noon: Stock donations must arrive in the Foundation’s brokerage account.
  • December 29, Noon: Credit card donations must be processed by The Foundation.
  • December 30, 1:00pm: Cash donations should be hand-delivered to our Liberty Station office.
  • On or Before December 30: Check donations must be postmarked.

Be sure to contact The San Diego Foundation for help with your philanthropic decision-making.

Access our year-end giving toolkit