The options can be overwhelming when you are looking for a charity to support. According the World Giving Index the USA is the most charitable nation on earth; in the USA there are over 1.5 million registered charities. With so many worthy causes looking for donors how do you decide which charities warrant your support?
The amount you give won’t matter unless you make sure your money gets to the right place. Besides avoiding the fake charities out there, there are many legitimate charities you may want to avoid because they are wasteful or ineffective with their funding. It’s worth doing a little research to make sure your hard-earned dollars are put to good use and you make a donation that truly benefits a cause you believe in.
Start by identifying some of the causes you’d like to support, say blindness, education, or wildlife preservation. You can use websites like GreatNonprofits.org, myPhilanthropedia (a division of GuideStar), GuideStar.org, GiveWell.org, and Charity Navigator. Take a look at a charity’s mission. Does it inspire you? Does it speak to your core values? Or perhaps a cause is close to your heart. Maybe your mother battled lung cancer or your nephew suffers from autism, then you are naturally more compelled to contribute to a cause you have personal experience with.
Another great resource is the the annual Forbes list of the country’s 200 largest charities which contains a wealth of information, including information on how efficient a charity is with their funding.
Don’t forget your local churches, synagogues, or mosques. Most religious organizations maintain a 501(c)3 status, making them an excellent and obvious choice to donate to.
Once you’ve narrowed your selection review the charity’s financial reports to be sure they’re administering their donations effectively. Charities should be upfront about how donated money is spent and be able to provide you with an IRS form 990 that describes the charity’s finances. A legitimate charity will make these s financial reports available either via request or a listing on their website. Find out what it takes a charity to raise one dollar. If it’s over sixty-cents, you should dig a little deeper and find out why. If a charity is in a start-up phase they may be spending more outright on marketing costs to get their name out. An established charity should be able to demonstrate lower numbers and better financial efficiency.
The following sites can help you research potential charities:
GuideStar.com gathers and disseminates information about every single IRS-registered nonprofit organization. They provide a wealth of information from a non-profit’s mission, to their governance, and so much more. GuideStar awards seals of approval to those charities that meet their criteria for transparency and accountability.
Charity Navigator, is a free service that analyzes and evaluates over 5,000 charities in the United States. But you probably won’t find an analysis of smaller, local charities on this site. Charity Navigator only reviews those charities that have over 1 million in earnings.
Charity Navigator enables you to search charities by name or by cause, such as childhood hunger or cancer. By grading the charities they list you can easily see if an organization you are interested receives top-ratings for transparency and fiscal responsibility.
A good bet for smaller, local charities is checking with the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, which evaluates a many of the small charities operating nationally.
Your Cause, Your Choice. You get to decide how you give.
Giving really comes down to a matter of trust. You want to give your money to a charity you can trust. Giving can be an incredibly rewarding addition to your life and these 5 simple steps can help you make a choice you can trust and support an organization that helps make our communities better places to live.
Follow this link to read about some of America’s worst charities and the unscrupulous practices many use to solicit funds:
The timeshare resale market can be a scary place for people looking to get rid of their unwanted properties. It’s so corrupt that the BBB ranked timeshare resale scams as one of the top ten scams in the country. That’s why all of us at Donate for a Cause always do everything we can to prove our honesty, integrity and reliability.
Our commitment to transparency has not gone unnoticed. GuideStar awarded us with their official seal of approval this week. If you’re not familiar with GuideStar they are the leading source of information on U.S. nonprofits. Think: the Better Business Bureau of the nonprofit world.
We earned their endorsement after we submitted our last three years of our 990 forms, the IRS financial statements that prove the charitable work we’ve been doing.
“Guide Star is the primary source that donors look to for guidance when making a charitable gift,” says Fred Peck,” an independent consultant who helps nonprofit organizations become more effective; as well as the Chief Financial Officer of Spokane Housing Ventures. “It gives potential donors a whole new level of confidence in Donate for a Cause.”
You can see our GuideStar status for yourself here: http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/20-4862885/project-philanthropy.aspx.
We’re also very proud and excited that one of our donors left a positive comment on the GuideStar site and gave us a five star rating! If you’ve donated a timeshare yourself through us, we would love it if you too would support us by leaving a five star rating and comment on the GuideStar site as well.