Doing Good: Our Guide to Giving Back


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‘Tis the season to give.  But where? How? Time and money are always hard to come by and you want your efforts to make a real difference. We can help. Here are ways to vet a nonprofit, donate wisely, volunteer efficiently and more.

Why Give?

We all get solicited to help out  for good causes, whether it’s by attending the swanky Heart Ball or buying popcorn or cookies from a boy scout. While these charitable efforts bolster the community, you can’t give to everything.

“People should follow their passions,” says Kelvin Taketa, president and CEO of theHawaii Community Foundation (HCF), the state’s largest grant-making organization, which supports various local nonprofits. “We all get asked to give to a lot of different things, but there are some things in the world we care more about than others,” he says. “People should give because we all avail ourselves of the services that are provided by the nonprofit sector. As an Island community that’s separated from everyone else by 2,300 miles, we’re community-centric and the heart of that community is really the nonprofit sector.”

Many of us also give, because, well, it feels good. According to the HCF 2009 Giving Study, when asked why donors give, half of the respondents said because it made them feel good inside. So, here’s to giving back and making a difference, no matter how big or small your contribution, whether you’re a long-time philanthropist or a first-timer.

Why Do We Give?

  • 63 percent gave because they believed in the organization’s mission
  • 53 percent gave to ease the pain and suffering of impoverished people
  • 50 percent gave because it made them feel good
  • 48 percent gave because it helped someone they knew and cared about

 Where Does Our Money Go?

There are roughly 5,000 registered nonprofits in the state. Here are the top five types of nonprofits to which Hawaii residents give.

  • 77 percent donate to human-services organizations 
  • 61 percent donate to health organizations
  • 42 percent donate to religious or spiritual organizations
  • 32 percent donate to youth-development organizations
  • 26 percent donate to education organizations

source: hawaii community foundation 2009 giving study

Be a Savvy Donor

Whether you’re writing a check with a lot of zeros, or emptying out your coin purse, there’s no reason not to be savvy. Here’s how to be in the know when it comes to charitable giving.

1. Make sure the nonprofit is a verifiable 501(c) (3). Visit hawaii.gov/ag/charities and guidestar.com.

2. Search for the organization’s financial records. Is the nonprofit spending more than half of its budget on programs and services? How is the organization investing its funds? Visit guidestar.com.

3. Check the charity’s commitment to donors’ rights. Does it have a donor-privacy policy?

4. Does the organization provide information and data about its mission and goals and how they were (or were not) achieved?

5. Target your giving. Be specific about the difference you want to make with your donation and give to causes that are important to you.

source: charity navigator

Related links:
30 Volunteer Ideas in Hawaii
Service Learning at Heeia Fishpond

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