Shopping is easy. You know how to shop for a book, a set of glassware or a lawn service.

But do you know how to shop for a nonprofit organization in which to invest your charitable dollars?

One way is to log on to The Giving Marketplace, a new offering of Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. It is a web-based initiative that provides comprehensive information about local nonprofits in Beaufort, Jasper, Hampton and Colleton counties.

Donors are growing more sophisticated in how they make philanthropic giving decisions. They want to know that the nonprofits are not only financially stable, but are making a positive impact.

They want to know that the organizations are being run efficiently and that effective processes and procedures are in place. And they want to see measurable outcomes.

The Giving Marketplace provides detailed information about all of this – information that donors can’t obtain from any other single source.

In The Giving Marketplace, each nonprofit creates an organization profile. Each profile includes specific information about programs that can include measurements, impact and outcomes as well as exhaustive information about operations, finances, management and governance.

It’s a one-stop shop where the community can get the facts they need to make confident and informed giving decisions.

In early July, you can find The Giving Marketplace at www.cf-lowcountry.org/ thegivingmarketplace and search for an organization either by its name or by its category or type. You can compare nonprofits, print easy-to-read summaries and even see video clips and the organizations’ printed materials if those items have been included by the nonprofits.

Additionally, the program gives you the ability to donate to specific organizations via The Giving Marketplace. If those looking at a nonprofit’s profile are moved to give, they can make an online gift right then and there. How’s that for convenience?

In March, as we started the process of populating the database, Community Foundation staff began training nonprofits how to accurately complete their profiles. Many of the fields are required, which means donors will be more easily able to compare nonprofits on similar measures. However, there are additional fields that aren’t required.

Nonprofits are encouraged to complete as many fields as they can because the goal is to provide as much information and transparency as possible.

We will continue to encourage more nonprofits to receive training and complete their profiles, giving them a broader audience and a new way to tell their story.

Donors will learn, either on their own or with the assistance of our staff if they prefer, about local organizations so that they can shop, using the criteria most important to them, for charitable investment opportunities.

Now you know how to shop for a book, a stock, and an impactful, efficient, transparent, well-managed organization. You know that The Giving Marketplace will continue to grow, so come back often. We hope you discover how easy it is to live generously.

Denise K. Spencer is president and CEO of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry. www.cf-lowcountry.org