As we roll out of the first month of the year, many of us on a personal or business level have made a New Year’s resolution to make a social impact in the community we are in. Whether it is volunteering time or making a financial contribution, individuals need to make informed decisions on how to target their involvement within organizations and the causes they support. 
First determine what you are passionate about personally and even professionally. If you are looking to make a “contribution” on behalf of your business, make sure the organizational goals of the nonprofit can be seen as an extension of your company’s mission. Supporting something that jibes with your business will make it easier to get your team/employees on board and will also make sense to your clients when you promote your involvement. 
Once you have found an organization you are interested in, it is time for research! Checking out a few facts about a nonprofit or charity is a great way to make sure you are investing in an entity that is legitimate. Confirming an organization’s tax status is often the first step. In the nonprofit world you will hear a lot about 501(c)(3), (4), or (6). Check out this link to learn the differences: Non profit differences. If you are wondering, Emporia Main Street is a 501 (c)(6). 
Next, it is important to review the mission statement of the organization you are looking to support and ask yourself if their goals and achievements align with you and/or your business. Lots of organizations boast about the causes they “support” or what they “can do”, but are they actually doing it? Ask about tangible results. 
A lot of organizations say they want to “make the world a better place” -which is great and who doesn’t want that? But ask them how they plan to achieve their goal and what steps have they currently taken toward success. Another tactic to use is looking at comparable organizations. If they both claim to have like missions-who is producing results? 
Let’s talk money,  

ask where your dollar or time commitment is headed!  

 A transparent organization should be ready, willing and able to discuss their finances, share information and provide literature about their work. If you are interested in volunteering, ask how many hours where logged from volunteers in the last year and what projects are available for you to get involved with. Volunteer opportunities are also a good way to get your employees involved with the community and create a common goal for your team to work towards. 
Volunteering or providing resources to a local non profit or charity can be tremendously gratifying, and our community benefits greatly from these contributions. However, it is important that you know exactly who you are working with and that you are truly impacting the cause you are passionate about it.