Checking Out Charities

According to the Giving USA Foundation, the amount Americans will donate to charity this year will approach 206 billion dollars. Impressive numbers, but that money could help even more people if all of us followed this advice...

Nothing says more about America than the way we open our hearts and our wallets to those in need. Like providing a hot meal to people who need it.

“Feeding America’s mission statement is to feed hungry Americans through a nationwide network of member food banks, and to engage our country in the fight to end hunger.”
-Judith Gatti, Feeding America

That’s called a mission statement: a clear, concise definition of what a charity does. Something you should see, understand and agree with before you donate. Step one in checking out any charity.

Step two? Taking the time to make sure the recipient of your largess is using your money efficiently. One way is to see what percent of their income goes to administrative costs, like advertising and overhead, and what percent goes to actual programs.

“Our organization operates with a 1.9% administrative cost. The rest of the dollars go to providing food for other non-profit organizations that are serving the community in need.”
-Judith Gatti, Feeding America

And even if you’re interviewing the CEO, don’t take anyone’s word for anything. Take another minute for Step 3: See what other people are saying.

It’s easy to do at any number of free web sites (CharityWatch.org is one, but you can always search Google for more). Just log on, look em up and check em out. Or at least request information directly from the charity. Because all non-profits are not created equal.

Bottom line? Of course you want your money to work as hard for that charity as you worked for that money. That’s why you should always take the time to do a check before you write a check.

For more information, see How to check out your charity from Bankrate.com.

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