Give Wisely: How to Check Out a Charity

Posted on 12/18/2012

Charities are working overtime during the holiday season, taking advantage of this critical fundraising month. Not only are people feeling generous this time of year, but it's also a good time to give for tax purposes. It's important to make sure you're giving to worthy causes that will put your donation to good use.

Verify the Charity
Charities, just like businesses, can receive an endorsement from the Better Business Bureau. To make sure that the charity you want to support meets the BBB's standards visit

Research Before Giving
Charities may solicit you through high pressure pitches, but don't give in too easily. Even if they pull at your heartstrings take some time to do adequate research.

Beware of Tricky Names
Many charities have very similar names-- and all sound legit. But rather than focus on the name, consider the facts. Find out how much of your gift will actually go towards the cause you want to support.

Evaluate the Charity's Grade
For a decade now Charity Navigator has offered free charity ratings to help donors give wisely. Around 5,000 charities currently have ratings at Create a free account and easily evaluate up to five charities side by side.

Consider Staff Salaries
One way to determine whether a charity deserves your donation is to look at how much its' CEO earns. Charity Navigator created a list of 10 highly paid CEOs at low-rated charities. Charity Navigator says these ten organizations are cashing in at the expense of the work they claim to be doing. In each case at least 40 percent of your donation is covering fundraising and administration coasts, not actual programs and services.

By Alison Storm

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