If you are considering leaving some of your assets to a non-profit organization when you pass, we commend you. Planned giving is an incredible way to leave a legacy and make an impact in the world, and we wish more people would make it a part of their estate plan.

(Related: 4 Planned Giving Benefits to Consider When Planning Your Estate)

Here are 3 questions if you are wondering how to know which nonprofit organizations are best to donate to at your death.

How to Know Which Nonprofit Organizations Are Worth It: Ask These 3 Questions

1. Does this non-profit align with my values?

Don’t give money to a non-profit simply for the sake of giving to charity, and don’t buy into their marketing if you do not understand what they do and how they do it! Make sure you know exactly what this nonprofit’s mission is so you can determine if it aligns with your values. A lot of nonprofits will list their mission statement on their website, but if it’s not there, call and ask them!

2. Is this non-profit fiscally responsible?

An organization may be a non-profit, and it may have an honorable mission, but that does not mean it is fiscally responsible. Many people fail to ask direct questions about where their money is going because they assume that if an organization is a charity, their money is guaranteed to be going good places and that it will be handled responsibly. Sadly, this is not always the case, so do your research! Make sure your money is going to accomplish exactly what you think it is. You can start by using a tool such as Charity Navigator to gather information about the non-profit’s financial reputation.

3. Is this non-profit accomplishing its stated mission?

We suggest you find out how the non-profit is currently benefiting your community, state, or a nationwide cause. Are they effectively doing what they are setting out to do? Talk to people who have donated to or benefited from this non-profit. If other people have had a good experience with them, there is a much better chance they are worth your investment.

What’s next? Create an estate plan that utilizes planned giving.

Once you have determined which non-profit(s) you would like to leave funds to when you pass, you will need to create an estate plan that uses planned giving to get the money to the organization when the time comes. There are several strategies you can use to set up planned giving, whether through your will, different types of trusts, annuities, or investment accounts.

For details about how to use planned giving in your estate plan, read our article: How to Leave Money to a Charity in Your Estate Plan

A Few Local Ideas:

Now that you have an idea of how to know which nonprofit organizations to donate to, we’d like to suggest a few local non-profits that may be worth your consideration. We have multiple clients and friends who have financially supported these nonprofit organizations while living or through their estate plans. There is no pressure from us to leave money to any of these organizations, but if you are looking for local non-profits to consider, the following may be worth your research:

AbbaCare, Inc.: AbbaCare is a free medical pregnancy resource center that has served women facing unplanned pregnancies in the Winchester area for more than 30 years.

Blue Ridge Hospice:  Blue Ridge Hospice has been providing high-quality services and end-of-life care with warmth and compassion to Winchester, Virginia and the surrounding areas for 40 years.

Families Reaching Out Group: Families Reaching Out Group (F.R.O.G) is a local non-profit organization (501c3) dedicated to making a positive difference in the lives of foster children and other children who have been victims of abuse, neglect, or are at-risk.

Insight Memory Care: Our mission is to provide specialized care, support, and education for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory impairments, their families, caregivers, and the community, through our adult day health and resource center.

NW Works: Our mission is to empower adults with disabilities and individuals with barriers to employment to build skills and secure and sustain meaningful employment.

Shenandoah Arts Council: The Shenandoah Arts Council (ShenArts) works to make the arts accessible and enrich the community of the Northern Shenandoah Valley with diverse and immersive arts experience for people of all ages — bringing art to the people and people to the art.

ChildSafe Center: To promote a child-focused approach to the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse by providing a safe, child-friendly facility, a Multidisciplinary Team response to abuse allegations and professional support, education, and advocacy services.

Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers: Loudoun Volunteer Caregivers is a community of volunteers helping frail elderly and adults with disabilities to maintain independence and quality of life.

Hero’s Bridge: Hero’s Bridge® is dedicated to serving elderly veterans, age 65 and older. We bridge our veterans to a better quality of life through our age-specific and innovative programs. These services are available to our heroes wherever they call home, at no expense to them or their families.

Loudoun Habitat for Humanity: Seeking to put God’s love into action, Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities, and hope.



Joshua E. Hummer, Esq. is a licensed attorney who has been admitted in both Virginia and West Virginia. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia and has been practicing for over 15 years. While experienced in many parts of the law, Josh specializes in estate planning, estate administration, and elder law.