Anyone looking to donate to a charity should be commended, as charities are sometimes the only way that some people get food for themselves and their families and charitable organisations may also provide emergency shelter for homeless persons, victims of domestic violence and so on. However, it is good to be cautious about where you might share your charitable dollars, so you know that your contribution will do the most good. Note a few tips that you might consider before making any contribution to a charitable organisation.

Long-term needs

Donating to a charity that supports a person's short-term needs, including medical treatment, food, clothing and housing, is always a very good choice, but you might also consider charities that concentrate on a person's long-term needs. For example, donating to literacy charities can help individuals who are stuck in poverty because of not being able to read or do basic math functions, making employment very difficult for them. Charities that help people battle addictions can also mean more long-term support, as employment and family relationships are also difficult to maintain when a person is suffering from an addiction. When choosing a charity, don't forget to consider these types of long-term needs, as well as the short-term, immediate needs of people.

Mission, method and academic research

If you are considering donating to a charity that provides any type of treatment option for people, you might note if their methods and mission are supported by academic research. As an example, some rehabilitation centres might not use proven methods of treating certain addictions and behaviour disorders, relying instead on vitamins, sweat lodges and other such questionable methods of treatment. These centres may have few, if any, measurable results. Be cautious about donating to a centre that doesn't follow standard methods of treatment or that uses methods that have been outright proven to be ineffective and potentially even harmful.

What to check

You might not know what to look for when you research a charity and whether or not it's legitimate and helpful, so note how much of your donation goes to their actual charitable work versus salaries for officers. Note if they hire disabled persons and if they pay them an equitable wage or pay them less than they maybe should.  Be sure you check on facts and figures such as these, and look beyond nice photos in brochures or other such sales pitches before you decide on a charity to support.