Donations to Charity: Investigating Online
When you are considering increasing your donation to a charity you are familiar with or you are considering donating to a new charity, the one critical piece of information you need to address is what portion of the charitable donation goes to administrative costs. This is often more critical when funds are being raised for major disaster relief to ensure that the funds are being used properly. There are some excellent online sources for rating charities where you can get accurate information.
National Association of Secretaries of State - Charities that are required to register with the state typically have records online available at the websites for the Secretary of State where they are registered. Some charities are required to register in any state where they are soliciting funds. Information may be selected by state and reviewed online.
Charity Navigator - Charity Navigator has an idependent system for evaluating charities. They base their information on the tax forms that are filed by the charity. This group provides information on what percentage of donations are used for administrative costs for all charities that they evaluate.
Better Business Bureau - The Better Business Bureau provides information about charities through their Wise Giving Alliance. This helps donors evaluate charities, find out if complaints have been filed and provides information that the charity has disclosed to them. Charities in the United States and Canada are available.
Charity Watch - While Charity Watch does not provide information on as many charities as Charity Navigator does, it is still a good source of information. The charities they do evaluate are large charities (those with over $1,000,000 in public support annually). They do charge a fee for information.
Donors should always verify a charity before donating. Understanding how much money charities spend on advertising, solicitation and other administrative activities can help you make an informed decision about where to donate.