Choosing the charity you want to support can be hard.
Don't wait to be persuaded - sit down and think through what's important to you and then find an organisation that helps. Award-
winning travel writer Carole Edrich is an experienced charity rider, and give us some pointers.
- Understand your values. What is important to you, what do you want to support, are there methods that you might not be comfortable supporting? Where should the charity be working? What should it be doing? Should it be large or small? Local, national or international? Consider whether it's going to be easier to eliminate possibilities before you make a final decision or whether you'll just pick one you already know.
- Give to groups you know or can check up on, be reluctant to give to strangers as that's the only way of knowing for sure that your money will go where you want.
- Check up on the charity. Raising money for a hospice? Do you mind which one? Make sure it's a local hospice if that is what is important to you, or to an organisation that determines the most needy place if it isn't.
- Gift Aid it if possible. It makes more sense as it helps your money go further.
- Consider the means. Different organisations use different methods to get similar results. If this matters to you, research it before selecting your charity.
- Check the charity is real. Is it a registered charity? If not there's no way of being sure that your money will go where you want. A good organisation will clearly define its mission, objectives and projects, will have measurable goals and will describe its achievements in easily understood, measurable ways. Avoid it if it pressurises you or won't share information with you.
- Check the money. What other funding does the charity have? Do you want to give to a place that already has money, or to a smaller charity that may be struggling in these difficult times? Bear in mind that the types of work a charity might do will substantially affect its operating costs. Ask questions or check their accounts if this is important to you.
- Consider volunteering. Hands-on experience will show you whether it's the kind of organisation you want to support, while the work you do itself is worth loads as well.
- Protect your information. Don't give out personal information, be wary of phishing and other potentially fraudulent ways of getting your information from you. Link directly to a charity's website rather than through an email.
A final word...
Finally, in selecting your charity, trust your instincts! If something feels wrong, look for another similar charity that doesn't.
Carole Edrich was recently presented with the first Adrian Dewey Award for 'the person who has overcome the most on a bike for the benefit of others'. She tweets at @CyclistOnChemo and @C_E, has her own personal photo blog.