Vetting Nonprofits in a Moment of Crisis

With war raging in Ukraine and requests for aid flooding our email and social feeds, many friends have expressed frustration about vetting a nonprofit. We all want to help, right? So, how do we find nonprofits worthy of our time, talent, and treasure?

There are established organizations with international brand recognition, ratings from oversight organizations, and robust infrastructure able to produce polished calls to action. But how much was spent on the fundraising campaign? The corporate infrastructure? The full- and part-time employees? There are also smaller, local, and often overlooked nonprofits. How can we evaluate them-how can we give them a chance?

Big or small, all nonprofits have a few things in common:

  • a tax id number
  • a 990 form filed with the IRS
  • a website
  • a mission statement

Start there—with the mission. Does it resonate with you? Do you want to learn more? The relationship between you and the nonprofit begins at the intersection of your interest and the nonprofit’s mission.

Nonprofit Spotlight: Liberty Lexington

Small nonprofits have inspiring stories to share. They start from an identified need and a passion for making change. Liberty Lexington is a great example. It’s a nonprofit news source dedicated to reporting human rights abuses in Eurasia and pursuing justice for those victimized by regimes in the region, started by Washington and Lee (W&L) University Senior Nick Mosher.

The 21st century has witnessed the emergence of significant economies across Eurasia that look to increase their size through foreign investment. Human rights abuses and corruption often accompany these regimes. Not only is this morally problematic, but it also makes bad business environments for international financiers. 

Many of Nick’s classmates and graduates from W&L University pursue careers in finance. Of these, most have a chance to be involved at some point in international finance projects in Eurasia, and thereby potentially have the influence to improve circumstances there. So, Liberty Lexington seeks to inspire action in addition to informing its readers of what is truly happening behind the mirage of these regimes.

This offers positive outcomes on both sides. If international investors refuse capital to countries with poor human rights and political track records until they are improved, the political environment and safety of these populations will improve. It will also simultaneously enhance the economic and financial environment for those looking to invest.

Evaluating a Nonprofit

In this time of so much information and disinformation, this is a worthy cause, right? In addition to Liberty Lexington’s tax status and 990, there’s a story here. A story of insight, purpose, and patience. Liberty Lexington is lean, all volunteer-driven, and doing great work—educating hundreds of current and future decision-makers with real-time content and opportunities for community engagement.

So, how can we learn to evaluate nonprofits like Liberty Lexington?

First, do your due diligence—make sure they have their nonprofit tax status and then a deeper dive into their 990. Get to know them, follow their social channels, and subscribe to their newsletters. If they have an annual report—check it out.

Find out what impact they are having. How many people are they reaching? Get involved, ask questions, and offer your feedback and insight. Give them a chance and then offer them your time, talent and treasure. It could be the best path to changing the world.

What started as an idea in a college dorm will eventually influence foreign policy and aid. At UncommonGood, we’re hopeful for future generations and their desire to make an impact because of stories like Nick Mosher’s. To learn more about Liberty Lexington and their call to action for Ukraine click below.

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