Financial Planning > Charitable Giving

No Time to Research Nonprofits? The Giving Library Has Done It for You

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The Laura and John Arnold Foundation last week released an online library with information about hundreds of American nonprofit organizations to help donors explore giving opportunities in one place and make informed decisions.

The new Giving Library also allows philanthropists to communicate directly with participating nonprofits through the library’s Connection Center.

“There is not currently a way for philanthropists to quickly but substantively look into a large number of giving opportunities, and the Giving Library addresses that need,” Meredith Johnson, the foundation’s communications director, said in a statement.

“What would have taken months or even years of meetings and travel can now be done in a matter of days, from anywhere. It’s the new way to give.”

The Arnolds established their foundation in 2008, and signed Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge in 2010.

John Arnold, a former Enron natural gas trader, returned capital to investors in his Centaurus Advisors hedge fund last year, and appears to be winding down the operation, according to Forbes, which put his personal fortune at $3 billion.

Donors can use the Giving Library to explore participating nonprofits in two ways: short-format videos that provide a broad understanding of an organization’s work; and long-format video interviews to model an in-depth, face-to-face meeting between a donor and a nonprofit.

The long-format video interviews address each organization’s origins, objectives, success metrics, leverage points, effectiveness, possible misconceptions, accomplishments, challenges, future plans and gaps.

In addition, donors can use the Connection Center feature, which allows them to plan their giving on their own terms. Donors may directly connect with organizations of interest—anonymously or by voluntarily identifying themselves—to ask questions or request additional information.

The foundation said nonprofit organizations included in the Giving Library were evaluated to ensure that they are 501(c)(3) public charities. Otherwise, a nonprofit’s participation in the library is not an endorsement by the foundation, it said.