Charitable giving, in its purest sense, is rarely considered a poor or misguided choice, but in many cases, it is far from binary. In reality, proper donating is fairly nuanced and contingent upon research and careful consideration. One question that typically rises to the forefront of this process: should you support a local or national organization? Specifically, what are the key differences between these categories, and are they relevant enough to put one ahead of the other? 

The answers to these questions are almost always case-by-case, but luckily, there are a few crucial focal points that make the decision easier. 

What are your goals?

Before generating a list of potential recipient organizations, take time to flesh out your goals in providing support. Do you plan to help end world hunger? If so, why? Think beyond the obvious and remind yourself why you have committed to joining the cause.  Consider the multifaceted nature of the issue in question. For instance, your animal welfare ambitions may be relegated to a specific categorical subset (endangered species, sheltered domestic animals). Push yourself to fully realize your goals; it will only make the research process easier. 

Donating locally

The pros: generally speaking, local donations hold a strong sense of blue collar support–the good feeling that comes from knowing your donation is going to the “little guy” in lieu of a major corporation. What’s more, many of these organizations have established ties to the community, which makes it easier to see the real-world application of your support at work. 

The cons: an unfortunate downside to small, local organizations is they are not always guaranteed to last (mainly due to a general lack of access to large grants). This means that such organizations may be forced to use donations on overhead costs instead of proactive cause activity, but it also means that your donation remains crucial–just in a different sense than you may have planned.

Donating nationally

The pros: experience is an obvious advantage held by larger organizations; they often direct their support towards nationally recognized issues and have been active for decades. Therefore, the impact of these organizations is comparatively easier to measure and research. 

The cons: sadly, occasional instances of fraud have created stigmas for many national causes, with such controversies typically drawing the eye of national media. Overcoming these anxieties is a consistent hurdle in national donating, but it is important to build your research in a manner that teases out those organizations that are objectively genuine. 

Regardless of which path you choose, remember that your support will likely matter one way or another; it all boils down to circumstances and personal preference.