Myths, questions and concerns about nonprofits

United Way of Greater Cleveland Kid SuperheroesA nonprofit organization is like a complex machine. There are numerous moving parts that all must come together for this machine to run smoothly. From hiring accountable and passionate people that follow necessary processes and procedures to fundraising and allocating funds to the highest performing and impactful agencies and programs, each part must move in harmony together.

Sometimes those moving parts do not always move in the proper sequence though. That could be an individual’s action that doesn’t adhere to accountable and transparent processes and procedures. This single occurrence can negatively affect the organization’s reputation in the community.

That one instance can change public perception for years to come, making people question the nonprofit and its ability to do good in the community. This is a question of ethical and moral philanthropy and honest activism.

So, what constitutes being a fair, transparent, equitable and impactful nonprofit in a time of public distrust in nonprofit practices? And how do you find the nonprofit that’s right for you?

Elements of trust for a nonprofit

There are many factors that must be strictly followed to ensure a nonprofit organization is successful – making the greatest impact on the people it serves and causes it supports. Some of the most important factors that should be considered include:

  • Disclosing 990 forms when major organizational changes occur, such as leadership hires, funding model changes and detailed donation reports
  • Sharing organizational financial reports with the public, revealing details of funding that go to programs, services and agencies, as well as percentages to internal operating costs
  • Keeping the public well-informed on the status of its mission and goals and what has been, and needs to be, done to meet those promises

According to a 2016 article in The Times Herald, “An organization should make its financial health, board members and mission results available for anyone who asks.”

Steps to ensure you’re giving to a reputable nonprofit

United Way of Greater Cleveland and Rape Crisis Center presentationWith countless nonprofits to choose from, it’s extremely important that a prospective donor or volunteer become well-informed when choosing a nonprofit. You may or may not already know the cause or issue you want to support. Maybe you just want to give back in general and don’t know where to begin.

The following characteristics and traits can help you determine the most appropriate, accountable and impactful nonprofit to support:

  • Has a clear mission and vision they follow and one that aligns with your beliefs and ambitions
  • Are financially sound and have a history of fiscally responsible practices in the community
  • Is respected and recognized throughout the community and by the people it serves
  • Can mobilize and bring people and other organizations together to achieve success and address pressing issues in the community

Remember, identifying the nonprofit that best aligns with your philanthropic passions is an important part of giving back to your community. These steps will get you started on your charitable journey and arm you with the information to make the right decisions.

This article was originally published on cleveland.com by United Way of Greater Cleveland. Read the original article here.

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