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Give With Confidence This Holiday Season

They’re here! The holidays are here! October through December are the most celebratory months of the year. Once Halloween decorations go up, it seems everything is in hyper-speed on the way to New Year’s Eve. So much to do, so many people to see. Our attention goes to family and friends, love and hope, giving and charity. We want to take care of others at this time of peace and sharing. It makes sense that this is the time of year we think about those less fortunate, and why volunteerism rates go up and charitable giving increases. One of the top reasons individuals make donations at this time of the year is for that feel good moment. There’s a lot to be said for sharing our good fortune with others.

That makes the holiday giving season a critical fundraising time for not-for-profit organizations. The last three months of the year are when 34% of donations are made. Surprisingly, individual donors made up 74% of charitable gifts last year to the tune of $456.73 billion. Truly proving that every donation counts. The number one reason an individual makes a donation to any given nonprofit is simply that they are asked. Good news for charities but it can create an unpleasant experience for donors who later learn the charity doesn’t live up to expectations.

Almost unbelievably, only one third of donors do any research when considering their charitable gift. The good news is that there are a number of charity-rating services available to individuals looking to help their neighbors in need this holiday season.

One of the most prestigious is Charity Navigator, a not-for-profit charity-rating guide available for individuals to research the causes they are passionate about. Their ratings are detailed, easy to understand, and updated regularly (based each year on the organization’s 990 filing).

Unlike other rating organizations, Charity Navigator uses a two-tier classification system. First charities are defined using 11 broadly defined Categories widely recognized by most classification tools and not original to Charity Navigator. The second classification is by Cause; those are original to Charity Navigator. Thirty-five Causes have been identified throughout all 11 categories.

Each charity is assigned a category and a cause using 3 criteria –

  1. Activity code selected in the IRS filing to determine how the charity defines itself.
  2. Examination of programs and services offered to determine what the charity does.
  3. Examination of the financial information to determine how the charity functions.

Table to Table falls into the Human Services category and the Food Banks, Food Pantries, and Food Distribution cause. Here’s the full category with its causes.

Human Services

Children’s and Family Services

Youth Development, Shelter, and Crisis Services

Food Banks, Food Pantries, and Food Distribution

Multipurpose Human Service Organizations

Homeless Services

Social Services

Ratings show how efficiently a charity uses their support, sustains its programs and the level of commitment to being accountable and transparent, as well as their financial health. This gives donors an efficient way to determine an organization’s strength in its category and cause.

Let’s get it out there now -we have exciting news! We were notified last week that Table to Table has received a 4 star status from Charity Navigator for the 6th straight year AND we are ranked the #1 human services agency in the state of NJ. We could not be prouder of the hard work of our staff and volunteers.

Like every charitable organization, we rely on the support of our individual donors to help us continue to meet goals like our 15 million meals for 2015. The need for fresh, perishable food continues to grow and we are working tirelessly to meet that need. We do not charge the organizations that donate food and we do not charge recipient agencies that receive food. We do not use government funding. We rely on strong fundraising activities, our loyal volunteer base, our dedicated staff and YOU, to help us deliver nearly 40,000 pounds of food each day. Please check out our rating on Charity Navigator as you consider where to give your charitable gift this holiday season. Each dollar will provide 10 meals and you’ll be providing consistent, nutritious meals for families right here in Northern New Jersey.

We would also like to take this opportunity to thank all our supporters, big and small, without whom our mission to provide fresh, nutritious food to our neighbors who need it most could never be accomplished. We wish you a very happy holiday season and great success, health and happiness for the New Year. Thank you for being a part of the Table to Table Family!

REAL PEOPLE, REAL STORIES.

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