When one hears the word tithing they generally associate it with donating a portion or percentage of your income to the church.  But is tithing only for the religious or can anyone tithe to a good and worthy cause?

The answer of course is that anyone can choose to donate a portion of their income to charity.  While it may be common for church-goers to tithe money to a religious cause, there are many other worthwhile charities in desperate need of funding.

If you’d like to donate to a charity but you’re not sure which one, start by looking close to home.  Perhaps there is a local non-profit such as a soup kitchen that could really use the donations.  If you are an animal lover you might want to donate to a local animal shelter.

Another method many people use when determining which charity to support is to look at their own lives and the lives of their loved ones.  For example, my father died of a stroke and my mother has congestive heart failure.  My sister died young of breast cancer.  My father-in-law died of lung cancer and my mother-in-law suffered from Alzheimer’s disease before she passed away.

Since my life has been touched personally by each of these diseases I find myself naturally wanting to go out of my way to support charities that work toward developing cures and improving the quality of life for people afflicted with them.  If you look at your own family and friends you are likely to find a few such causes to rally around.

Comparing the Effectiveness of Charitable Organizations

If you’re going to donate some of your hard-earned money to a charitable organization you want to know that your donation will do as much good as possible.  You want to know that your money is helping someone in need instead of supplying a new set of ivory backscratchers to the charity’s board members.

Fortunately the Internet has made it easier than ever to research charitable organizations and analyze their finances.  Sites like Charity Navigator allow you to look at their income statement so you can quickly see how much of their revenue is going toward their actual cause and how much is going to administrative expenses and fundraising costs.

Of course, financial ratios will only tell you part of the story.  Relying solely on a charity’s overhead costs could cause you to overlook many worthwhile organizations.  Their expenses may just be a bit higher because they are investing in their infrastructure so they can grow and be more efficient in the long-term.  Or they might be hiring very talented people who are getting good results, which would be better than seeing them leave for greener pastures and seeing the entire organization decline.

In addition to financial performance metrics, Charity Navigator also rates each charity based on accountability and transparency.  You can also compare them to other charities performing similar types of work.  With hundreds of charities listed you will certainly be able to find one that supports a cause you care about.