How to show your local love in a year that calls for it most

This year has been especially difficult for many people in Calgary and area who have been struggling as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether they are experiencing a decline in mental health or having trouble meeting their basic needs like food and shelter, the needs in our community are deep-rooted—and deepening in complexity. Calgarians are being asked to rally behind their community at a time when their support is needed most.

You know you want to help, but how do you choose where to give your time and attention? Are there certain things you should be looking for when it comes to picking a cause to support? Which charity will use your donation the most effectively and responsibly? The good news is a little research goes a long way when it comes to making informed giving decisions. Explore these six tips to help you choose a charity for big social impact.

1. Connect with your core values

Thinking about what you value will help you narrow down your list of options, and ask deeper, more meaningful questions along the way. Do you already have an idea about the kind of change you’d like to see? How about where? Are you most interested in improving things in your own community—where programs and services may be directly offered to local people—or do your dreams extend beyond borders? Take note of which charities align with your personal values.

2. Have a conversation with friends and family

Get curious! Ask others where they give and why. It’s a great way to learn about other charities and gain a new perspective on giving. You can even turn giving into a family activity—by talking about the ways you want to improve your community, you can help show their children the value of giving and create space to bond for a lifetime. If you have friends who are undecided about where to donate or have never contributed to charity, it’s the perfect opportunity to share the causes you’re passionate about. You might even inspire them to become a supporter!

3. Lean into local

If you’re striving to create change in your own community, you’re not alone. The pandemic is making us more conscious about where we spend money, and many people are choosing to support local initiatives to keep our vibrant city alive. From a donation standpoint, you’ll want to look for charities that live and breathe local. These are the ones working tirelessly to support our friends, families, and neighbours impacted by the pandemic. United Way of Calgary and Area is 100% local, so every donation is invested right where you live and work, helping improve lives today and in the future.

4. Make sure your cause or charity is authentic

You want to invest in legitimate causes, so be diligent and do your research as you narrow down your shortlist. Even if you have the best intentions, be cautious about supporting online crowdfunding efforts and ask a lot of questions about how your hard-earned money will be used. Authentic charities will be registered with Canada Revenue Agency, and they will be able to provide a receipt for income tax purposes. Donations to United Way are eligible for valuable tax credits, which can reduce the federal and provincial income tax you pay every year.

5. Discover your charity’s impact and performance

Are the charities you’re looking at making a meaningful impact? Review their annual reports, where their efforts and progress will be documented. For example, United Way’s latest impact report highlights how we helped 430,377 individuals build better lives in 2020.

To get a well-rounded view of performance, you can look to third-party charity rating tools. Try Charity Intelligence (where United Way is ranked 4/4 for financial and reporting transparency and accountability to donors), or MoneySense’s Charity 100 (where United Way was rated an A+ charity in 2019). Another resource to help inform your giving is Maclean’s list of top 100 rated charities in Canada (where United Way ranks among the top 10). For even more detailed information, you can search your favourite charities and their financials on Canada Revenue Agency.

6. Consider your charity’s stance on collaboration

When teams need to solve tough problems, diversity is a powerful asset. That’s because multiple viewpoints and perspectives feed into more thoughtful, robust, and well-informed decisions. The issues affecting our community are complex and it’s impossible for one single organization or person to solve them all. Collaborative work paves the way for true innovation and makes lasting social change possible, so consider if your charity of choice is forging strong partnerships to address issues at the root.

Helping make sure our most vulnerable citizens don’t fall through the cracks—or aren’t vulnerable in the first place—is a big job. That’s why United Way brings together donors, corporations, agencies, government, local experts, and community ambassadors to create the greatest possible impact across Calgary and area.

Your gift improves local lives

United Way of Calgary and Area brings people together to solve complex social issues and improve lives. Your investment stays local and is strategically invested right where you live, work, and raise your family, helping people overcome poverty, supporting kids to succeed, and strengthening neighbourhoods. We are committed to accountability for our donor dollars through a rigorous measurement process with annual reporting and generate high return on community investment.

Please join United Way as we work to recover better together and ensure no one in our community is left behind. When we stand united to help others, we can be part of something bigger than ourselves, creating ripples of positive impact across our community that swell to waves of change. United, we make the biggest difference.