Thursday, May 27, 2010

How do you know if the charity you want to give to is legitimate?

Good question.

OR, do you find a charity that will maximize your donation?

I hope the following information will help. (It will perhaps be slightly boring, but hopefully useful.)

Sometimes these big non-profit organizations can be intimidating. They sound like they accomplish such great tasks, organize large projects, and provide great relief.

But did you know they also make money? Of course they do. That is how they provide the help they are giving.

However, not all non-profits are created equal. So, how do you know how good your charity is at giving? Here are a few tips.

On the left side of my blog you'll notice a few links under SITES THAT EVALUATE AND REVIEW CHARITIES. These independent companies evaluate, rate, and publish just that -- how these organizations and agencies are using their money.

A little bit about them from their website:

The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) is a nationally prominent charity watchdog service whose purpose is to help donors make informed giving decisions.
This web site will provide you with information about our organization, the charities we rate, and our method of grading charities. Special features will focus on top salaries, top-rated groups, and hot topics in America's most popular causes such as:Abortion, Animal Protection, Cancer, Child Sponsorship, Environment, Human Rights, International Relief, Senior Citizens, and more.

The next is the Better Business Bureau. (I know! I had no idea either that they handled charities!) If they are an accredited charity, the BBB logo will appear on the charity's site. Their logo will look something like this below:
{Or perhaps - exactly like this.)

The next is Charity Navigator.
From their site:

Charity Navigator, America's premier independent charity evaluator, works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America's largest charities.

They use a rating system of stars (similar to restaurant or movie ratings) and they have a comprehensive financial analysis of each charity. (As with the other evaluating companies I have already mentioned, you can see exactly how much a charity is paying their top leaders, i.e. the CEO, as well as how much they spend overall on administrative expenses, fundraising expenses, and how much they spend on their program itself.) It is a very interesting report to look at. It tells you a lot about a charity. Their logo looks like this:

The last one is GuideStar
From their site:
If you care about nonprofits and the work they do, then you're affected by what GuideStar does—even if this is your first visit to You see, we gather and publicize information about nonprofit organizations. Our reach is far and wide. Our database is broad and deep.

We encourage nonprofits to share information about their organizations openly and completely. Any nonprofit in our database can update its report with information about its mission, programs, leaders, goals, accomplishments, and needs—for free. We combine the information that nonprofits supply with data from several other sources.

I haven't come across any "accredited" sites with a GuideStar logo, so there may not be one, but at least you now know who they are and what they do in case you want to look them up.

So, if you are interested in donating to a charity, check out one or more of these links to find out a little bit more about how they are using their money, and use them as possible resources for finding charities. Several of them have lists of top charities that they like (as well as top charities that don't receive good reviews.)

I hope this will help you in your giving.

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