"How do you know?"
A friend of mine who lives in Chicago recently asked me for advice on a topic we have all wondered about: “How do you know if you can trust a charity?” It’s a very fair question, and here’s some advice:
1st - Know who the charity really is-- That may seem obvious, but did you know there are over 1,000 United Ways, for example, that are all independent “501(c)(3)” (charitable) organizations? United Way of St. Charles is chartered via our by-laws to provide funding and services to St. Charles Parish residents. We have a local Board of Directors, made up entirely of volunteers, who makes independent decisions on what is best for our community.
2nd - Know what they do-- Again, it may seem obvious, but if an organization is associated with a health issue: Do they fund research or provide support for patients? Both are good causes, but you may prefer your dollars to go to one versus the other. That’s part of being an educated donor. United Way of St. Charles funds and operates over 100 programs that both assist people in need and prevent people from having needs. We are involved in the “teach a person to fish” side of programs as well as programs that provide for emergencies.
3rd - Do they “show you the money”? – Put simply: Are they transparent? At UWAYSC, we publish both our federally filed 990 and our independent audit on our website.
4th - Will they let you “in the game”? My personal opinion is that the best way to be educated and satisfied with a non-profit is to become a part of it and its processes. If you’d like to get involved with a UWAYSC committee or program, e-mail me, and let’s talk.
Last but not least – Please check out the FAQ section of our website. Whether you are a long-time volunteer or donor, or brand new to learning about United Way, the FAQ section will hold some new and interesting information.
United Way of St. Charles Executive Director