While many of our readers give to their favorite charities throughout the year, many make a special effort to benefit additional charities during this time.
If you have charities that you know well and support, then you hopefully understand their mission and are familiar with how they spend your giving. Unfortunately, we are all approached to give to groups that we do not know.
If you are considering giving to a charity that is new or that you are not familiar with, I suggest you spend a few minutes reviewing Charity Navigator. http://www.charitynavigator.org This organization is a charity that collects and reports on other charities. They give each charity an overall rating plus a rating on financial and a rating on accountability & transparency.
Be careful with groups that have similar names. For example you may have seen The Wounded Warrior Project as it is promoted on TV. (It’s overall score is 54.39 out of 70 which gains it 3 of 4 stars. On accountability and transparency if is rated a 66 out of 70 or 4 stars out of 4.) There is another well-rated group titled Wounded Warrior Family Support. The first focuses on returning injured veterans, while the second focuses on the families of the injured. Both have high ratings from Charity Navigator but different missions.
I particularly appreciate the financial information provided in an easily understood format on Charity Navigator. The site shows how much was collected, according to the latest Form 990 report, and more important, how it was disbursed. Some groups spend a large portion of their money on fund raising, often paying outside groups for solicitation. Charity Navigator shows program expenses, administrative expenses, and fund-raising expenses.
Not all groups are rated on the site. Some are exempt from reporting and therefore the financial data is not available to the public. The Salvation Army is an example of this type of group.
Thank you for sharing your financial blessings with those who are less fortunate.