Which charity should I donate to?

Well over half a million organizations collect donations in Germany. But it is often difficult for donors to see through which initiatives use the money sensibly. The following questions and answers clarify how to find the right donation project for you.

What should I donate for?

Before making a donation, everyone should think about what is particularly important to them. The more specific the topic, the easier it is to find a suitable organization. Gabriele Zeugner from Consumer Protection Bremen advises you to choose only one organization if possible. "Those who donate often end up on a special list and are asked for donations again later. Those who donate to many organizations therefore also receive more advertising," says Zeugner.

How do I recognize a reputable organization?

"If you want to be on the safe side, it is best to donate to organizations that belong to a renowned umbrella organization or that have a recognized donation seal," says consumer advocate Zeugner. The best known in Germany is the donation seal of the German Central Institute for Social Issues, or DZI for short. The seal gives donors security, but costs the organizations time and money. For smaller organizations, a seal is therefore not always worthwhile, so the willing donor has to do his own research: "The smaller the organization, the more detailed the donor should find out beforehand, as these often do not publish meaningful financial data," says Daniela Felser, the managing director of the German Donation Council.

A quick look at the homepage is not enough; instead, existing documents should be carefully checked: Are the current annual reports available, can you see what the money is being used for? Is the initiative recognized as charitable and does it issue donation receipts? If you want to donate, you can also contact the organization and ask for more information. If the employees give no information or even become unfriendly, it is better not to donate. The same applies when employees put donors under pressure, especially at the front door or on the street: "A donation is always a voluntary service," says Zeugner.

How much will I get from my donation?

Most organizations inform potential donors of the cost of administration and outreach. For the DZI, less than 30 percent is still considered acceptable; on average, the costs for organizations with the seal would be 14 percent. These expenses are important for a well-functioning, professional organization: projects must be planned and controlled. Donors need information material in order to be able to evaluate the organization. This is the only way to guarantee that the money will be used optimally.

Anyone who donates because of a current disaster situation should pay attention to how much experience the organization already has in the respective region: "Anyone who has been on site for a long time has the appropriate contacts, can buy relief goods locally at good prices and knows where the need is largest is ", says Felser from the German Donation Council.

What are earmarked donations and how useful are they?

1000 pencils for 27 euros - those who donate money to Unicef ​​can determine exactly what they want to finance in the online shop: vaccines, school supplies or peanut paste. So-called earmarked donations make abstract development aid clear. Donors know exactly what is happening with their money.

Nevertheless, the DZI and the German Donation Council advise against such donations. Because it is very time-consuming for the organizations to process these donations. And in case of doubt, there is no donation money for urgently needed projects because these are not sufficiently present in public. The aid organization Doctors Without Borders has therefore stopped soliciting earmarked donations since 2014.