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Five questions to ask before making a donation

December 14, 2016: In their December 9th blog post,  Charity Navigator suggested that donors ask themselves five questions before making a donation to charity.  Charity Navigator encourages philanthropy and helps would-be donors learn information about the charities they wish to support. We reviewed the suggested five questions and thought we would proactively answer these questions for you. If you want more information about these or answers to other questions you might have, please don’t hesitate to call!  

Question 1: Did the charity get lost in the election funding cycle? The gist of this question, as the blog author describes, is to discover whether your favorite organization lost funding because donors diverted their contributions to candidates and political parties during this latest election cycle. At the Public Justice Center, we have not realized a loss in support because our donors have directed gifts towards the election. In fact, since the election, we have heard from many of our donors that our work is more important than ever. Given our mission and commitment to serving those whose lives are adversely impacted by injustice, we are concerned especially about the plight of low-income workers and renters, families who live in poverty and people of color.

Question 2: Does the charity match your passion? Of course, you are the only one who can really answer this question. But if you are someone who likes organizations that pursue solutions to deeply entrenched social issues, we believe we are likely to be a good match with your interests. If you care about access to justice, you might appreciate that we facilitate the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel, which seeks to establish the right to a lawyer in civil cases that concern a person’s basic needs. If stable, affordable housing is something that concerns you, the results and strategies of our Human Right to Housing Project might interest you. Concerned about the cycle of poverty? Consider how our Workplace Justice Project team helps low-wage employees get the wages they worked hard to earn from unscrupulous employers who tried not to pay them. There is so much we do. Visit http://publicjustice.org/our-work to learn more about each project. You might also appreciate reading statements from donors who do support our work.

Question 3: Is the charity fiscally responsible, ethical and effective? We are one of a select group of nonprofit organizations that has earned the Standards For Excellence certification. The Standards is a national initiative that evaluates principles of honesty, integrity, fairness, respect, trust, responsibility, and accountability in nonprofit program operations, governance, human resources, financial management and fundraising. The Public Justice Center is also committed to transparency and to this end, we provide copies of our 990s, audits, annual reports and other important documents on our website. Donors can also request information from our office. Our effectiveness is measured by the results we achieve for our clients and for the change we bring to the systems that perpetuate poverty and discrimination. We invite you to review our annual reports or read past issues of our newsletters (on our website) to learn more about the effectiveness of our work.

Question 4: Do you trust it enough to give without strings attached? Again, we invite you to ask the questions or review our materials to help you trust the PJC as an organization worthy of your contributions. We do appreciate gifts that are not restricted to a specific project, if you so choose. This affords us the flexibility to meet injustice wherever it rears its ugly head. “Unrestricted support” also allows us to sustain projects whose work is larger than or longer than the terms of a restricted grant. That said, we will also appreciate a gift that you earmark for a specific project if you are so moved. Feel free to call and talk with us.

Question 5: Does the charity have strong leadership? Yes. The PJC is governed by a well-led and active Board of Directors whose members represent a wealth of knowledge and experience, and including private law, public interest law, academic, and non-legal professionals. The PJC has a full time staff of 21, including a full time volunteer attorney (who came to PJC after 52 years of private practice), a Jesuit Volunteer, and a handful of volunteer law students. The staff is composed of 13 attorneys, 3 paralegals, and 5 administrative and funding raising positions. The attorneys are quite experienced -- with an average of 16 years of practice - and are subject matter and strategy experts in their fields, often recognized nationally for their efforts. You can learn more about each of our staff in the About PJC section of our website.

We appreciate your interest in our work and the support you share with us. We know that philanthropy is a personal choice and one motivated by a variety of stimuli. We always appreciate gifts of all sizes from donors who choose to stand with us and build a just society.

I hope that you will call or email if you have questions.

My best regards,

Jennifer K. Pelton, CFRE
Director of Development


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