WACO, Texas — December is the most generous time of the year as many people use it as a time to give back, but before you write a check to large organizations or a national charity, local groups hope you remember them as well.
Mission Waco has been in the community for the last three decades.
"We empower, we equip, and we engage," Mission Waco Executive Director John Calaway told 25 News. "Most of what we do and spend our time and money doing is empowering folks in our community through faith-based, relationship-based services that really create environments where people empower themselves to get out of poverty and off the streets."
Calaway said they can't do it without donations from the community, which have been slowly trickling in this year.
"Currently we're about two months behind, about $100,000 behind than we were this time last year," he said.
After a slow donation year, Mission Waco, like Shepherd's Heart Mobile Food Pantry and many other non-profits in the area, are now hopeful holiday generosity can help fill the gap.
"This is the time when it will pick up, we know that, but through the year our donations are lower than they were last year," Shepherd's Heart Executive Director Robert Gager said.
With community needs increasing, donations decreasing, and bills piling up Gager said they need all the help they can get.
"Our maintenance bills have really just gone up, our fuel bill has tripled this year," he said. "Those are the things that are really eating up our dollars."
Not only did their bills rise, but so did the need for their services. Shepherd's Heart has been in Waco for more than 12 years. This year they served over 68,000 families so far, which has been more than ever before.
"Last year we were just below 37,000 families served," Gager said. "The year before that was the pandemic year and I want to say that was somewhere around 42,000."
Donations to organizations like Mission Waco and Shepherd's Heart keep dollars local and allows neighbors to help each other through tough times.
"This is the community. What we are is the hands and feet of the community," Gager said. "What the community pours into us, we put right backout."
"It takes a village and it takes a community to help those in needs," Calaway said. "What happens to the least of these in our city, absolutely affects the rich of the rich."
A 2020 study from the Better Business Bureau showed that end-of-year donations do tend to overwhelmingly support local organizations.
"Two-thirds of them said we want to see local accomplishments, we want to see them helping our neighborhoods locally," Jason Meza with the BBB told 25 News. "That went a long way. Trustworthiness over name recognition, we prefer to see people doing good in our community rather than have a big name."
According to The Charity Navigator, non-profits raise between 30 and 40 percent of their annual income during the month of December. 10 percent of all yearly donations come in during just the last two days of the year.
"We really advocate people to do their research on charities they want to support," Meza said.
The BBB recommends people look into the organizations they're supporting. They say it's important to ask what exactly the money is being used for.
"Gage these charities and what their track record is, who they're giving to, even Boards of Directors," Meza said. "You want to dig deep and find out who's involved in a charity and who's looking to get your time and resources."
The BBB shares tips and advice on finding reputable charities on their website. They also encourage donors to report scams to them.