Often, excellent nonprofits are made, not found. As a donor, you have the power to build and strengthen the nonprofits most aligned with your goals. Identifying the impact you want to make will help you narrow the field of potential grantees to those that fit your values, goals and interests. Clarifying your goals also opens opportunities to build and strengthen those groups aligned with your interests, helping them accomplish the work you care about.

What kinds of nonprofits do you most want to support, build, and strengthen?

Here are questions to help you clarify the values and goals for your philanthropy:
  • What are your values? Being clear about your values can inform the kinds of organizations and approaches to change about which you’re most passionate.
  • What do you want to achieve with your giving, volunteering, and even your skills and experience? Other ways of asking this are: What is your desired impact? What difference do you want to see in your community or society?
  • At what level do you wish to make change? When considering where to target your dollars and time, do you wish to impact individuals, organizations, networks, policies, or ideas?

Through conversations with your favorite grantee organizations, whether about financials, training for board and staff, systems and policies, fundraising capacity, equipment, or other issues, you’ll discover what they need to move forward. Can you make the types of grants they need most? Would you consider general operating support, which can free many organizations to focus on their services? Would you consider grants to help train board, staff, and volunteers or to build systems or technology capacity? Can you offer support beyond grants, such as advice on fundraising, communications expertise, or connections to other funders?

Above all, your commitment to finding effective nonprofits and lending the support they need will pay off in greater results and greater satisfaction as a donor.

Common characteristics of effective nonprofits

  1. Clear mission and purpose
  2. Ability to perform key functions
  3. Strong practices, procedures, and policies
  4. Good people
  5. Ability to mobilize others

Read the full article about characteristics of effective nonprofits at Exponent Philanthropy.