By John Turner, founder of SeedProd

We all have busy lives. Between work, family gatherings and personal hobbies, we don’t always have the time for charity work. Doing charity is great, but the next-best option for many business owners is donating to charitable organizations

And there are plenty to choose from: According to the National Center of Charitable Statistics, there were more than 1.5 billion nonprofit organizations in the United States in 2015.

If you or your company decide to give money to a charity, you want to make sure that the organization is trustworthy, right? But how do you decide whether or not a charitable organization will spend your hard-earned donation the right way?

Let’s take a look at three qualities you should look for if you are thinking about donating to a charity. 

Proven Record of Helping Others

The first thing you should look for is a track record of the charity you want to support. You can start by looking at how long it has occupied the public space. 

One of the first charities that may come to mind is the American Red Cross. This historic organization was founded back in 1881 by Clara Barton. The Red Cross also has a consistent record of helping people in need during natural disasters and other hardships.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t trust a charity if it was founded in the past couple of years, but you should practice due diligence before you write a check or send an online payment.

Most charitable organizations happily show how they are using donor funds, which leads to the second quality to look for in a charity: community engagement. 

Engagement With the Community

Community engagement is important for most profitable businesses, and charities also engage with their communities so they can continue to help others. If you’re thinking about donating to a nonprofit, always check to see if it has active social media accounts or an email list for people who want to stay up to date on its latest contributions and projects. 

Between the 2.65 billion people using social media and the 3.8 billion email users globally, there’s no excuse for a reputable charity to not use these platforms as a way to engage with the community. 

You can learn a lot about a charity through its blog. The blog page of a nonprofit can provide a wealth of information about how that organization is helping communities. Look for heartwarming stories, specific information about how that group helped others and details for future goals throughout the coming year.

A charity website without a blog is unusual and should prompt you to research further before you make a contribution. 

Clean Website Design 

Website design is important for bloggers, e-commerce storefronts and, yes, charities. A jumbled landing page with pixelated images and sloppy UX is a big red flag when you’re looking at a charitable organization. 

A good charity website will have some fundamental features such as a contact page, an SSL certificate, crisp images and website copy that conveys a meaningful message. In other words, when you land on its page, you should have no issues navigating through its menus or participating in polls, surveys or forums. 

When you’re thinking about giving money to help others, it’s important that the nonprofit you’re researching has a fully functioning website with great design, an easy-to-use interface and verified payment submission forms. 

Back to You

Donating to charity is a great way to help out if you live a busy lifestyle. Some of us struggle to handle the stress of our day-to-day lives, and this is an excellent alternative for business owners who have a strong urge to grow their communities but don’t have enough time in their day. 

Always do your due diligence before you donate to an organization. Looking for these three qualities will help you make an informed decision and feel much more confident about your contribution. 

John Turner is the founder of SeedProd, the most popular coming-soon page solution for WordPress used by over 800,000 websites.

Published on: Feb 21, 2020
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.