What Every Charity Wants Donors to Know

Lauren Janus – Good-Giving Planner

As soon as I graduated university, I knew I wanted to work for a charity.

I wanted to help people! Be part of the solution! Bring communities together! Was I young? Yes. Idealistic? Tick. Fully committed to the good that the sector could do?


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So, enter the world of charity work, I did. I spent the next 15-plus years working in the trenches of several organizations in the US in the UK, on issues as diverse as climate change to care for the elderly. And I learned a lot.

Now I work helping donors give thoughtfully to charities that reflect their values and passions. In doing this, I try to let donors in on some of things I have learned that most every charity wishes donors knew about the sector. Here are my top three learnings:

Regular (sustaining) gifts are the best kinds of gifts.

Giving to a charity once is super. Giving regularly is about 10 times better. That is why so many organizations try to get you to sign up to be a recurring giver. This is because recurring gifts allow charities to plan, knowing they can count on a monthly income.

I was recently speaking with the head of a small peace building charity, when she mentioned they had just been awarded a regular grant from a donor for the next five years.

This was huge to this small charity, as it meant they could meet some immediate needs, but also invest in some longer-term infrastructure that could help them be more efficient and effective. “I now have a laptop computer that holds a charge,” this woman told me.

Admin costs are not a good measure of effectiveness.

There’s been a lot of ink spilled in recent years on the downfalls of judging the effectiveness of a charity by how much it spends on overhead. The fact is that measuring impact or effectiveness is a messy (albeit doable) task in the charitable sector. But looking at how much an organization spends on its people or its insurance is not the way to do it.

Happier donors are informed donors.

People who work in the charitable sector know their field. Most of them dig deep into the research around their issue—be it homelessness, cancer or international development. Many of them dedicate their lives to these issues, and they know all of the major players, policies and strategies to move their issue forward.

These professionals also know that when you as a donor take the time to get to know the issue you’re giving to, and how specific charities are addressing it, you’ll become a more engaged—and happier—donor.

That’s why most charities will happily take your phone call and publish more information than you can possibly read on their websites. They want you to feel as passionate, informed, and motivated as they are.

Next Steps

As always, if you’d like to start a conversation about your charitable and good-giving plans, please contact me at hello@longhurst.co.uk.

Keep learning, giving, and growing as a donor. And please stay safe.

Legal Notice & Links

Lauren is not employed by Longhurst Limited. Lauren Janus owns Thoughtful Philanthropy LLC. Please click here for more information.

Longhurst Limited does not accept any legal or financial responsibility for the services Lauren Janus or Thoughtful Philanthropy LLC provides.

Charitable and Good-Giving services are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.