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Evaluating Charities

posted 5/22/2013 8:20:55 AM |
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Americans are known for being the most generous people in the world. We give and are continually being asked to donate. If we are so inclined to support a charitable cause, how do we know how they will spend the money

One thing that really burns me up is when I donate to a charity and they spend the money on printing up and mailing appeals and/or hiring telemarketers to ask me for more money

Back when I was with the State of Texas, they had an annual drive for employees to have charitable donations to up to three charities deducted from their paychecks They provided a booklet listing hundreds of them and each one had a percentage of donations that was used for administrative and fundraising expenses and overhead. Most were in the 15 to 25 percent range. There were a few into the forties or single digits

I found the information in that booklet to be quite helpful in deciding who to donate to. Well, this site, Charity Navigator, goes far beyond that booklet and is an excellent tool for determining the worthiness and efficiency of 6,000 charities. It also has excellent navigation and search capabilities to help you to find charities for causes you wish to support

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May 22 @ 11:57AM  
A great blog Bruce. I've been in the nonprofit development field for nearly 28 years. 5 with the Salvation Army (one of the good guys), 5 with a Catholic Diocesan office (financially one of the good guys) and 18 years in July as a development consultant (read that as a Fundraising consultant). Fundraising watchdogs like the one you linked do a great job keeping the shyster fundraisers honest.

One cautionary comment though, Special Event fundraising such as dinners, concerts, golf tournaments etc. have higher than normal expenses. OUR rule of thumb for those types of events is to keep expenses under 50%, lower if we can get the talent, food, etc, donated.

Personally, I prefer the Capital Campaign work we do where we keep the expenses between 3%-15% depending upon the type of agency and size of the campaign. Almost ALWAYS under 10%.

Thanks for the topic.

May 22 @ 12:23PM  
Red Cross always says that when donating cash to them, specify what it is for, for example, Moore, Oklahoma tornado victims. Otherwise, they just put the money in a fund.

I don't trust the ones who call on the phone. Too many out there who are not trustworthy.


May 22 @ 2:28PM  
i agree with 100% these days u really don't know if ur donating ur hard earned dollars to a honest charity u never know if they will just waste ur money on useless crap or goes n thier own pockets

May 22 @ 10:26PM  
I donate items to a charity on Pine Ridge, I have known the person running it since 1972 and I know the items go to the children and elderly up there. Personally I think small local charities are usually better about putting the money where it belongs than national organizations,

May 23 @ 4:27AM  
I'll post this here with what I said on your blog over on the vanilla site.

Phone solicitation I have a huge problem with. I'm on the do not call list, but sometimes that's not enough to stop all of them. When I do receive a call from these people asking for money for charity, I slam the phone down after I tell them I don't do phone solicitation.

If I want to give to charity, I will seek them out and give. Simple as that.

I do have two favorite charities. The Humane Society, and The MS Foundation.

May 23 @ 7:26AM  
With me, telephone solicitations don't work because I never answer a call if I don't recognize the number. If it's important, whoever is calling will leave a message.

My preferred charities are United Way of Richmond, Africare, Red Cross, Alzheimer's Association and American Cancer Society.

I also donate a lot of stuff to Goodwill and organizations like them, but that's self-serving - it allows me to get rid of things that I don't need.

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Evaluating Charities