Sharing Your Bounty: Providing Holiday Meals to the Less Fortunate
Of all the festivities associated with the winter holidays, the one thing many people look forward to most is the big holiday meal. Whether it’s turkey on Thanksgiving, a Christmas ham, or a pot roast at a Hanukah dinner, food is indelibly intertwined with our holiday celebrations.
Generous donors, thankful for the opportunity to feast with family and friends, are also moved this time of year to help provide holiday meals to the less fortunate. While there are many efficient, well-run charities that offer holiday meals to those in need, there are also some who spend their money inefficiently, often spending a large portion of your donation on fundraising.
This holiday season Charity Navigator urges you to be careful before you donate to a charity promising to provide holiday meals. Often, charities that advertise in the newspaper, send solicitations in the mail, or put up billboards advertising their holiday meal programs are spending a good portion of your donation to pay for those advertisements.
In order to provide a holiday meal for those in need we advise that you:
- Research any advertisement you see. If you receive a solicitation in the mail, or see an advertisement in the local newspaper, from a charity promising to provide holiday meals, check up on how it spends its money by seeing if it’s one of the ~7,000 charities we rate.
- Use our search features to find a well-run charity near you. By using our advanced search feature you can search for charities within your state, city, or within a set radius from your zip code. You can also combine your search with a key word such as “homeless,” “meals,” or “food.” Within the results of your search click on “Re-sort by: Overall Rating” to see these charities listed from highest to lowest rated (most to least efficient). Once you’ve developed a list of efficient charities that offer food for the less fortunate, contact them directly, using the information provided on their ratings page, for more information about their programs. Should you choose to give cash, you can make an online contribution by clicking on the Donate Now button featured on the charity's Charity Navigator ratings page.
- Consider volunteering your time all year long. While the desire to provide meals for the less fortunate may seem strongest during the holidays as we enjoy feasts of our own, the need is the same throughout the year. Make a New Year’s resolution to donate your time serving meals on a weekly basis or schedule and organize food drives at various times throughout the year.