The Charity Long Tail

This week’s issue of Time magazine (Nov 6, 2006 issue) has an interesting one pager called “How to give to the little guys.” I have always had an internal debate (yes, I have quite a few of those) over whether to give to some of the mega-huge charities, like the American Red Cross or the United Way – or to spend more time looking into more focused organizations that think in a similar way that I think. During times of mega disasters, like Katrina – it seems that the Red Cross would be the best organization – in my opinion – to pony up some money to help out. So, that is my basic strategy for mega events.

Back to the Time article real quick – they point out that donations to the largest charities has increased a great deal in the past year. Their question is – Are the largest charities the best places to donate? – which has been my question for year round type of giving – the non-mega-event donations. Ah ha – a classic Long Tail – 400 charities capture 25% of all donations – not to say that 75% is anything to turn your noses up at, but apparently 1/2 of charities have budgets under $25,000 (go read the article). And that 25% “market share” is growing for the large charities – an increase of as much as 13% last year.

Okay, I am not knocking the big guys – they are important – but, you as a consumer (yes, even when donating – think the same way as you would when buying a new garbage disposal (which I need a new one by the way)) have this huge field of smaller, more focused charities to choose from – a vast long tail of human kindness that you can plug into. I am going to point to some sites (stolen from the article again) that help you to make intelligent decision about giving money:

guidestar.org

bridgestar.org

independentsector.org

ncna.org

wisegiving.org

globalgiving.com

I am going to try and do my best to find some interesting charities out there – I welcome suggestions! So, watch this spot as I track down places I feel that can have an impact on things that I am concerned about. I am pretty sure not everyone will agree with some of my choices – but that is what makes this fun!