Millions of American soldiers put their lives on the line every day and in the line of duty, many servicemen and women are injured. There are an estimated 22 million military veterans living in the U.S. as of 2014.
Many veterans are in need of a great deal of help. As of March 2013, more than 200,000 veterans were unable to find work and nationally the unemployment rate for veterans is 2% higher than it is for average citizens.
Fortunately, there are organizations and veterans charities in the United States like the Wounded Warrior Project and Purple Heart Pickup who accept needed charitable donations for military veterans and military families. The Purple Heart Foundation, for example, estimates that it helped more than 19,000 veterans secure more than $200 million in benefits just in 2018.
When it comes to charitable donations, a little can go a long way. If you’re donating used household items, stuff that you may no longer have use for like clothes can be of great help to veterans. By donating, folks are doing a good deed for a lot of people who are greatly appreciative.
There are plenty of good reasons to donate to charity, but before you drop off items for donations or sign your name to a check, stop for a second. As awful as it is to think about, not every charitable organization is what it seems. There are indeed plenty of reputable charitable organizations that do a lot of good for a lot of people who need help. But you’ve likely seen stories about swindlers who start charities only to leave town with pockets full of money.
So how can you avoid that? Before you donate, here are four things to think about:
- Find a cause you’re passionate about: If you’re passionate about helping veterans and military families, find organizations that help them. Bottom line: find a cause you’re passionate about before just blindly donating to it. When you take the time to do that, you’re more likely to donate and help because you feel like you’re making a difference in peoples’ lives that you feel a connection with. You might not know the people, but you know you want to help them.
- Only donate in person: If you’re going to donate to charity, don’t do it over the phone. Stick to doing it in person or online where you can track it. Blindly giving your credit card number to someone over the phone can give that person carte blanche to do whatever they want with it and you don’t want that.
- Charity as investment: Chances are at some point in the past, you’ve given money to a charity and never thought about it again after you’ve handed the money over. Thinking about all the times you drop money in the Salvation Army’s kettles during the holidays.
Thinking about your money as an investment rather than just blindly giving of money can change your perspective. If you’re serious about donating, try establishing a relationship with a charity you’re interested in. That way you have a vested interest in their success and you’ll be more apt to lend your support to that organization more than once. Ultimately you should be making donations to things you’re passionate about and not looking for credit for.
- Do research: If you want to donate to military families or any charity, do some research first. Check out a charity’s mission statement and look to see what they’ve done recently. Charity Navigator is a great site for looking at finances and how accountable charities are. You want to make sure a charity has solid leadership so that the people like you who make charitable donations don’t get swindled.
There are plenty of reputable charitable organizations out there for causes such as helping military families and veterans in need, animals, people overseas, etc. By taking time to do a little bit of research, you can find a charity or charities that you’re passionate about helping and from there you can establish an ongoing relationship with them and make charitable donations as an investment rather than a one-off.