How to Choose a Reputable Charity

Helping neighbors in need is one of the greatest of feelings. Charities that are on the ground, working to make the world a better place, can benefit greatly from our donations. One contribution can make all the difference to those in need. And, when managed strategically, our charity dollars can be tax-efficient, as well. The benefits of charitable giving are endless, but we must pay close attention to which organizations we fund. With a little research, you can rest assured that you’re changing the world for good.

Check with Trusted Resources

Luckily, a few quick searches can help you attain much of the information you need. Several trusted resources can give you confidence—or provide you with insight into why your charity dollars could do more good elsewhere.

Here are some of the top charity vetting resources:

Review the Charity’s Financials

When asked how he finds reputable charities, Dave Ramsey had this to say: “Depending on the size of the charity, they will have detailed financial statements that will reveal [how they spend]. If they don’t make their financials public, I don’t give to them.” Of course, once you locate those financial statements, keep in mind that you’re looking for the ratio of administrative costs to the money that goes directly to your desired cause. If 90% of the funds are going to overhead and only 10% of the funds are making it to your cause, this charity may not be the most efficient way to use your money. Administrative costs are necessary; however, the numbers should reflect that the charity uses your money wisely. Some suggest that administrative costs should hover around 35%.

Keep in mind that there is a cost associated with retaining top talent. If a charity wants to be successful in fundraising and operating, they will need to compensate their employees competitively. Overall, use your best judgment when reviewing these numbers and consider what kind of picture they are painting—and if it’s a picture that you feel good about.

Look Over the Charity’s Website

A charity’s website should tell you most of what you need to know. They’re telling you a story about why you should give to them before anyone else. Take a moment to see if that story aligns with your morals and goals for giving. Look for how much good the organization is doing: do they help a large number of people, are they transparent about how they operate, are they sending a message that resonates with you? Keep these elements in mind as you determine whether this charity is the best fit for your hard-earned money.

Determine Whether Your Donation is Tax-Deductible

If you hope to mitigate your tax payment through charitable donations, ensure that the charity you are considering is a 501(c)3. This designation lets you know that they have been certified as tax-exempt by the IRS, and they will be able to provide you with documentation stating this as well. You can also do your own due diligence by checking the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search.

Trust Your Gut Feeling

Your money should be put to work in the best way possible. Make sure that you have properly vetted the charity, ask around to your friends and family, and—more than anything—trust your gut. Give this act of kindness the thought and research necessary to feel comfortable with your donation.

Your advisor can help you create a tax-efficient charitable giving plan that benefits everyone involved. Contact us today to get started!

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Jeffrey T. Dobyns


President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS 

Jeffrey T. Dobyns

President, SageSpring | Financial Advisor, RJFS

Beyond crunching numbers and investment strategies, at SageSpring, we’re about building relationships. When you encounter Founder & President of SageSpring, Jeff Dobyns, it’s easy to understand why this is at the very heart of who we are as a firm. You won’t find stuffy formalities with Jeff; instead, you can expect to find him sharing a warm smile, communicating a compelling vision, or patiently untangling life’s complex challenges with clients. He believes in truly getting to know clients, understanding their aspirations and priorities, and navigating their financial plans with a tailored, comprehensive approach. Our team members have often been caught taking notes on Jeff’s effortless relationship skills from a distance, and we admire them for striving to learn from one of the best. 

Jeff’s financial expertise and wisdom are the perfect match to his innate people skills. Jeff holds the prestigious CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM certification, Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®), and Chartered Financial Consultant (ChLU®) designations, and has held executive positions with financial planning firms for more than two decades. 

His dedication extends beyond the office to the boardroom and the local community, where Jeff is passionate about giving back. He serves as Chairman of the Board of Men of Valor, a prison ministry and mentoring program. Jeff also serves on the board of Send Musicians to Prison, which shares hope, healing and restoration with the imprisoned through musicians & artists. Jeff actively supports other initiatives in the community by sitting on the board of The Signatry of Middle Tennessee and the Halftime Institute of Nashville. 

Witnessing his four children, Gracyn, Hunter, Tanner, and Logan, excel on the field is almost just as rewarding, if not more, than celebrating the victories of seeing his clients overcome obstacles and build wealth. Spending weekends boating on the lake, hiking mountain trails, and fishing with his family are the moments Jeff cherishes most. It’s this grounded perspective that reveals the true meaning of wealth for Jeff: not just numbers on a page, but the freedom to create experiences that enrich your life and the lives of those you love. When you choose the Dobyns McMillin Wealth Team, you choose more than financial expertise. You choose a partner who champions your dreams, celebrates your victories, and walks besides you on the path to achieving your unique goals.

**Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER TM, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.