Skip to main content

These tips provide a useful guide for donors choosing to make a first-time gift to an organization.

Interested in discovering more organizations to support? The Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation is here to help you grow your giving and explore more causes that align with your values.

Our Philanthropic Services team can help you identify nonprofit organizations that align with your values and can make a tremendous impact with your gift. If you’d like suggestions on evaluating a possible new grant recipient, here are a few tips to consider when making your charitable giving decision:

1. Personalize Your Giving Journey

Before you decide to support a new cause, consider first aligning your personal values, interests and charitable vision. For our fundholders, we offer a donor toolkit to guide you. This is a great starting point to learn about causes that fit into your vision based on the things you care about the most.

Once you have identified an organization you are interested in, continue to the next steps.

2. Visit the Organization’s Website

Look for transparency. The organization’s website should be able to provide you with the nonprofit’s mission, programs, services and impact. It should also provide information on the organization's financials, values, board members and staff.

3. Talk to People who Know the Organization

Consider talking to friends who may have knowledge of the organization or may have supported the organization in the past. Contact a board member you’re familiar with for an informal information session over coffee. Here you can get a better idea of the organization's mission, and see if it aligns with your own values.

Also, the Foundation can be a resource. Our philanthropic advisors work closely with our Community Impact team. The Community Impact team has relationships with nonprofit organizations and are familiar with which nonprofits are doing work in several areas of impact, such as housing, workforce development, health and civic engagement, among others.

You may look at the Foundation’s nonprofits we fund to see if we have supported the organization through our grantmaking in recent years. (Please note the Foundation’s Building Community Capacity grant program is focused primarily on Saint Paul and the East Metro.)

Attending the Foundation’s Giving+Together events, where nonprofit partners discuss a variety of topics, is another wonderful way to get to know nonprofits.

4. Look for Ratings and Reviews

There are a number of organizations that rate and review nonprofits. You can use this information to get a sense of the organization's reputation and its effectiveness in the community it serves. Some of the resources to consider:

Also check their tax exempt status. Make sure the organization is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization or is fiscally sponsored by one. A fiscal sponsorship is when an established nonprofit provides financial oversight and management to an organization that does not yet have their own 501(c)(3) status.

Please keep in mind that newer nonprofits may not have ratings yet, and these ratings are only one piece of a larger story. Similarly, evaluating an organization’s financial management is important but insufficient to tell the full story about an organization’s impact. Stay curious, and seek out multiple sources of information to inform your thinking!

5. Trust Your Gut

Lastly, trust your thoughts and feelings on the organization. If it feels like a fit for your values and giving goals, go to the DonorView portal to recommend a grant.

If you decide this organization is no longer one you would like to support or their causes no longer align with your values, you can change things at any time.

Feel free to contact your philanthropic advisor at any time to talk through questions you may have as you consider making a grant to a new organization.

More Stories

Why Nonprofits Deserve Your Continued Support

Learn why supporting nonprofits now is more crucial than ever.

Learn More

GIVING WoMN: Fueling Change Through Collective Giving

Learn how one group of women are transforming how they support community.

Read about the Group

Giving Stories: Donor's Future Fund Will Support Causes for Years to Come

Learn how Connie Roehrich plans to support her favorite causes with a future fund.

Read Connie's Story

Donating Stock to Support Your Favorite Charities

Did you know that donating stock can grow your charitable impact and support your favorite nonprofit organizations?

See How

Top 5 Reasons to Partner with a Community Foundation

Here are five unique benefits of working with a community foundation to reach your charitable giving goals.

See the Five Benefits

Investing in the Legacy of the Saint Paul Public Library

Learn how one couple’s gift of real estate will support young library patrons for future generations.

Learn More

Donor Advised Funds 101 - An Introduction to DAFs

Here are answers to your common questions about donor advised funds (DAFs), a popular approach to charitable giving.

Learn More

Benefits of Donating a Business or Donating Private Stock

Considering a business transition? Here’s why you should consider making charitable giving part of any business exit plan.

Learn More

GET MONTHLY STORIES, NEWS AND UPDATES

JOIN
US!

* Indicates a required field