If you’re searching for a nonprofit to support, you’ll be facing a pretty crowded marketplace. According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are now more than 1.5 million nonprofits operating in the United States alone. So how do you sift through all these options to find the charities that are working effectively to address the issues that really matter?

Start Asking Questions.

Once you’ve identified a potential nonprofit to support working in an area you’re passionate about, don’t be afraid to ask a few questions before giving your money away. Any nonprofit worth its salt will be more than happy to make members of their development team available for a short phone call or email exchange. And frankly, if your polite inquiries are met with any resistance, that’s a big red flag. With that in mind, here are 7 question you can ask to help determine if a nonprofit is worthy of your support:

1. Who Are You and What Do You Do?

Focused organizations should be able to provide a clear and concise explanation of their mission, goals, and programs. If it can’t, there’s a good chance it’s not working effectively to address any problems, let alone the important one you want to support.

2. How Did Your Organization Design Its Programs?

High functioning nonprofits design their programs using evidence-based research, rather than guesswork or best intentions. If the nonprofit you want to support is following a proven method, you can give confidently knowing your money will support programs making real change.

3. What’s Your Most Successful Program and Why?

Good nonprofits can describe their best programs and provide insight on why they’re working. This will also give a potential donor valuable insight into the organization’s success.

4. What Are Your Organization’s Goals?

Nonprofit programs should be working to achieve a larger goal. If an organization isn’t able to articulate what they’re working towards, it’s programs are likely unfocused and ineffective.

5. What Progress Are You Making Towards These Goals?

This question allows you to judge the organization’s overall success, but also allows you to assess how they measure success in the first place. If their accomplishments don’t seem like accomplishments at all, you might want to start looking in another direction.

6. How Does the Nonprofit Collaborate?

There are likely many other organizations working in your target nonprofit’s mission space. Do they work with any of those other organizations to accomplish their shared goal? If so, what is their collaboration strategy and has it been successful? If not, why not?

7. How Does the Nonprofit Communicate?

The best nonprofits have clear strategies for communicating with their donors and nurturing an ongoing relationship. So before you donate, consider how you’ll be brought into the organization after you’ve brought out your checkbook. Will your continued support be valued or assumed? After you’ve made your donation, will you feel included as a vital part of this important undertaking or will you be an outsider? Additionally, how does the nonprofit communicate about its finances? Are they transparent or hidden?

Ask Questions. Gain Information. Give With Confidence

Charitable donations are desperately needed throughout the United States and the world. But, that doesn’t mean you should turn your hard-earned treasure over to just any organization. Instead, you want to partner with organizations that are working efficiently and effectively toward goals that matter. Taking a few minutes to dig just a little deeper into an organization’s structure will help you give with confidence and make your money go that much further.