The current economic situation offers a double-edged sword for most charitable organizations. On one hand, some regular donors may feel more cash-strapped than usual, and may feel the need to restrict their annual giving. However, with the rise of new media (blogs, Facebook, Twitter, etc.), crowdfunding websites (Kiva, Crowdrise, Kickstarter), and innovative technology that tracks crises worldwide (Ushahidi, FrontlineSMS, etc.), charitable causes are able to disseminate their need and their mission to more people than ever. This helps organizations expand their donor base, create brand recognition and improve their efficacy.

Now, more than ever, like-minded activists and donors can communicate and coordinate through all sorts of channels to ensure the success of their chosen causes. One channel, giving circles, help groups of people make a big impact by pooling their resources and giving together. Online networking helps people make pledges to give, whether big (the billionaire’s Giving Pledge) or small (52×52).

Truly, it is easier than ever to give to organizations that you admire, however the importance of ensuring that organizations are reputable cannot be over-stressed. Websites like Guidestar, CharityNavigator and Givewell can help donors choose trustworthy charities, and CAAP can help you be more strategic in your giving by conducting thorough due diligence for all holders of donor-advised funds.

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