Today is the fifth annual Giving Tuesday. This day, which always follows Black Friday and Cyber Monday, promotes charitable donations with a heavy emphasis on social media.
Brianne Fitzgerald of Volunteer Iowa says nonprofits can leverage the impact of Giving Tuesday by encouraging people to post the reason they donated to the organization on social media.
"Hopefully nonprofit partners look at Giving Tuesday as just a launch pad to get these new donors, or build existing donors and then therefore hook them right into their mission, and find other ways that they can be involved...the rest of the year," she says.
When picking a nonprofit, some may want to be assured their gift will be well-used. Most nonprofits, with the exception of faith-based organizations, have to file a publicly available form with the IRS known as a 990.
The 990 shows the sorts of programs run by an organization, as well size, revenue and how a charity spends its money. Websites like Nonprofit Explorer, 990 Finder and Charity Navigator provide these documents for free. Charity Navigator also rates organizations by evaluating financial health, accountability, and transparency.
"From there you look on their website and you look at what they're doing," says Fitzgerald. "I would say that even though Giving Tuesday is an opportunity to really quickly go on and make a cash donation, it's also an opportunity to give the nonprofit partners a call and speak them about their work."