Following Your Donor Dollars: How the Money You Donate is Spent

Something catastrophic happens in the world and your first reaction is to want to help by whatever means you can. Most often, this means donating money to a relief fund or nonprofit organization so that front line work can happen at the location of the tragedy. Once the dollars leave your plastic card in your wallet, do you know exactly where they go? The truth is, there’s a lot more to the path than a direct flight from your pocket to the scene of the disaster.

Separating Emotion from Thought

Sometimes it can be difficult to separate thinking from emotion during traumatic times. People most often relate to others in hard times through sympathy and empathy, which are not tied to cerebral brain function. Conversely, investing money has lots to do with practical thought. Before you donate, do your best to take a second for critical analysis of whichever charity or vessel your money will travel through to get to the people who need it. “Is this organization healthy and functional? Does their mission resonate with me on a deep level?” If both of these questions are answered with the affirmative, proceed to donate your heart out.

Undesignated Funds for the Win

Pro tip: If given the option, let your donation stay undesignated rather than choosing a specific job for it. For example, if there are multiple projects as options for donating and another pool that says the foundation can do as they see fit with the money, choose the latter. By entrusting your donation to the organization, they can direct it toward whichever program is in the highest demand at that moment. Allowing this freedom means that your dollar will go as far as it possibly can.

Advantages to Donating Money vs. Supplies

Once the organization receives your money, it is turned into a grant and utilized for project purposes. Often, especially if you allowed your donation to stay unrestricted, your dollar goes a lot further than it would if you had spent it and donated physical supplies. Nonprofits and charities often get special discounts at stores that allow them to purchase much needed supplies cheaply in bulk so that they can be re-packaged and distributed to people that need them.

Thanks to people like you, victims of tragedies can get the support they need following an unfortunate event. By understanding the process of donation, you maximize your contribution.