When you finally make the decision to donate to charity, you want to give effectively. No person wants to give away their hard earned money, only to be hoodwinked by a fake organization, feel as though your organization isn’t the most effective, or end up donating to a program/project you regret.

So in order to make sure your money ends up where you want it, here are four steps to help you become a more effective donor:

1. Know your rights.

“Know my rights? What does that mean?”

Specifically, I am referring to the Donor Bill of Rights. There are certain things that donors are entitled to from non-profits. For example, you have every right to information about where their money is going. Familiarize yourself with the Donor Bill of Rights so that when it comes time to look at charities, you are a more educated donor.

2. Do your research.

When you are making a monetary donation to a non-profit organization there are a few particulars you want to read up on and understand before proceeding.

First and foremost, is this organization a registered charity? The benefits of a registered charity are tax receipts and a level of legitimacy with varying levels of government.

Second, if you are seriously considering donating to a specific organization, it is important to read their annual report. This is a overarching document, detailing the particulars of the organizations’ past year. It includes things like budget/finances, programs, changes in staff/direction, and more. Just like you don’t buy a car without doing your research, you should never donate to an organization before you read up on it.

3. Be passionate about what you support.

Whatever you choose to contribute to, make sure it is something that fuels you. 

Do you love sports? Donate to organizations that promote sport and play for children! Do you care deeply about women’s rights? Focus on charities that empower females.

Just like your occupation, you won’t be as motivated or committed to your donation unless you embrace the goals and celebrate the anticipated outcomes.

4. Get involved in catalytic philanthropy.

“Catalytic philanthropy” is a type of philanthropy that aims to fix market failures – or in other words – improve upon areas where capitalism fails to meet the needs of the poor. Why is this important? Well, it evens out the philanthropic playing ground. There’s more research done per annum on baldness than malaria, for example, because affluent people become bald, but don’t die of malaria. Catalytic philanthropy seeks to focus research efforts on pervasive social issues that are not getting their due attention.

As an effective donor, it is something to consider. Every person will want to further a different cause, but it is important to make sure your cause is worthy (and needy). Catalytic philanthropy seeks out unique ideas that may very well fail, but may have a huge impact on their sector if they succeed. For example, the Bill Gates’ Grand Challenges program supports initiatives that range from making staple crops more nutritious, to creating vaccines that won’t spoil when they get warm, to trying to stop dengue fever by infecting mosquitoes with a particular bacterium.

Though no one wants to feel as though they are ‘gambling’ with their hard earned donation, contributing to a trailblazing initiative may greatly help to better the world.