7 Charities Offering the Biggest Bang for the Buck

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Whether your passion is animals, veterans or the environment, here's a list of charities where your money will do the most good.

Unless you’re Ebenezer Scrooge or George Costanza, chances are you’d be glad to learn that a charitable gift has been made in your name this holiday season. Money donated to charity is an admirable gift idea, and not just for your friend who has everything (seriously, who needs three iPhones and two iPads?).

Here is a list of seven of the best charities, ones that put your money to good use, unlike the incorrigible Costanza’s fabricated Human Fund.

But first, watch the video below for some tips from Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson regarding how to make smart charitable donations.

1. Doctors Without Borders, USA

The name of this charity has become synonymous with worldwide benevolence, and for good reason. It works closely with the United Nations and the U.S. government, providing compassionate medical care in more than 60 countries around the world, many of which are affected by war, epidemics, lack of nutrition or natural disasters.

In any given year, Doctors Without Borders USA sends more than 200 medical professionals overseas to areas that would otherwise be lacking in adequate health care. These doctors and nurses also give specialized training to locals, who ultimately comprise 90 percent of Doctor’s Without Borders working staff.

When you give money to Doctors Without Borders, you know you’re giving to a good cause, and it’s going a long way. According to Charity Navigator, Doctors Without Borders spends 86.8 percent of its budget directly on programs and services, and its Executive Director Sophie Delaunay takes home a relatively humble $142,000 annually, a mere 0.06 percent of the charity’s expenses. She’s also a tremendous representative of the organization, recently providing a comprehensive update on West Africa’s Ebola crisis on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.”

2. Homes for Our Troops

Every season of the year, not just the holiday season, is a good time to be thankful for our troops and give back to those who have given so much for their country. While most people have heard of the Wounded Warrior Project, there’s a lesser-known charity with an equally admirable mission: providing handicap-accessible homes to severely injured servicemen.

Homes for Our Troops will either build a home or outfit a current home with adaptations tailored to a disabled veteran’s specific needs. Just as impressive, Charity Navigator says that 92 cents of every dollar given to Homes for Our Troops goes directly into funding these projects, compared to just 58 cents of every dollar donated to the Wounded Warrior Project. The bulk of its expenses goes to further fundraising.

Simply put, Homes for Our Troops is a charity you can feel great about giving to. They’ve built 174 homes nationwide and are in construction on 54 more, all of them donated mortgage-free to service men and women in need.

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