Americans will be bombarded with charity appeals over the next few months, as charities seek to tap into warm holiday feelings and donors look for tax breaks before year's end.
But in these tough financial times, how do smart donors decide what groups deserve a gift? What information should you gather to ensure your donations do the most good? What watchdog groups offer wise guidance, and how do they differ in their approaches to evaluating charities?
What follows is the transcript of a live online discussion sponsored by The Chronicle of Philanthropy and The Christian Science Monitor. Leading experts in the nonprofit world will be on hand to answer your questions and share their advice on what matters most in deciding what charities to support.
Jacob Harold leads grant making for the Philanthropy Program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. He previously worked with the Bridgespan Group as a strategy adviser to nonprofits and foundations. He serves on the Board of Directors of GuideStar USA.
Adrian Sargeant is the Robert F. Hartsook Professor of Fundraising at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and an expert in fund-raising research, donor loyalty and retention, and the application of marketing principles to fund raising.
Jen Shang is an assistant professor at the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University, where she focuses on audience development, marketing, and strategic management in the arts, and is a philanthropic psychologist.
Mr. Sargeant and Ms. Shang together wrote "Growing Philanthropy in the United States," a new report that evaluates the current state of philanthropy.