Some people donate to charities for the benefits. Some give for social reasons, and others give because of the personal or emotional connection to the cause. Whatever the reason the end result is the same, we give to charities so that the ones in need are the ones that receive….or so I thought.
It all started a couple of years ago when some recent charity scandals hit the news. One was related to a well-known international organization that was unaware of the mismanaged donations that padded some employee’s pockets. It heightened my curiosity about charitable organizations and how the financial contributions were being dispersed.
Later that year I found myself in a conversation regarding one of my favorite charities at the time and I was told that most of the money that was contributed went to administrative and operations costs such as the CEO’s salary and not the actual cause. I began hearing and reading more stories of wasteful spending within these organizations and I was stunned. I hoped it wasn’t true, but after some research, I found it was true.
These days many of us are finding ways to be fiscally responsible and not spend foolishly. We are watching our money, making sure every dollar is spent wisely and doing our best to stretch our dollars.
Sadly, some charities have not been so financially wise and they’ve made some decisions that haven’t benefited their cause.
In the past, it was a matter of heart for me, – if the cause spoke to me emotionally that was all I needed. These days I do a bit more research when I’m choosing to give to charities or non-profit organizations.
We know that some amount of the donated dollars needs to support the operation itself to pay employees, keep the lights on etc… The question is how much should pay for operation cost and salaries and what percentage is actually going to the recipients, the cause itself?
It took me a while to find a system for researching charities and now I have some favorite sites to help with my research. Hopefully they can help you with yours.
Where To Research Charities
charitywatch.org – Look up specific charities and learn about the rating system. This site offers tips and suggestions and they explain their rating system clearly.
charitynavigator.org – This site is loaded with articles, tips, information as well as allowing you to look up a specific organization and read its ratings. It’s a full-bodied site that is easy to navigate.
bbb.org – This links to the Better Business Bureau charities page. It’s a great place to find complaints about the charity.
guidestar.org – You can search by zip code and find local charities in your area. One of the reasons I like this, is the numerous times I see someone outside of the grocery store soliciting for their charity claiming that it’s local, which is why I wouldn’t have heard of it before. It’s a great database to double-check your local charities and be sure it’s real before you donate.
ag.ca.gov – This links to the Sate Attorney Generals office for California. Each state, or area that you live should have something similar for your local area. It has a searchable database and information pertaining to regulations.
Benefits of Researching Charities:
(1) Be Educated
It’s an empowering feeling to know that organizations you donate to are really doing what they say they do. You can feel great knowing you really are contributing to the betterment of the world and not just someone’s paycheck.
(2) Find Local Places Where You Can Volunteer
Time is money and donating your time and capabilities can benefit a charity as much as your dollars can.
With this link, you can find charities and non-profit organizations in your local area. http://www2.guidestar.org/rxg/update-nonprofit-report/about-the-guidestar-exchange.aspx
(3) Discover New Charities
Another great thing about researching a charity you donate to is discovering new ones you never knew about. There are so many charity organizations don’t have the visibility and popularity of others and they are would benefit wonderful from your research!
I actually found several top rated charities that I wouldn’t have known about if I hadn’t been looking up another charity.
Use Your Voice
Now, if your favorite charity does use a large percentage of the donated dollars for administrative/operation costs and you are disheartened, you don’t have to stop giving to that charity. You can write them a letter and even find others to support your request for them to change how they handle their spending.
There is power in speaking your voice and gathering others to stand with you, remember that if your favorite charity isn’t being financially wise and you want them to restructure their spending be loud and gather others.