Giving to charity is an admirable and popular way to express your support for your favorite cause. However, it can sometimes be challenging to determine which charities you should give to; some of them do not distribute their money in a way you like, or they don’t focus as much on a specific issue you are passionate about. Here are some resources you can use to help you pick the best charity for you.
The IRS and the Better Business Bureau
The first step in choosing the right charity is making sure that it is registered as one. The IRS has a database that you can search to make sure your charity is registered correctly. You should also check to make sure that the charity you’re looking at doesn’t have a large number of complaints from donors and those it assists; at Give.org, the BBB provides a space for people to leave reviews of different charitable organizations. Remember to take the opinions with a grain of salt, however.
Charity Navigator, Guidestar, etc.
It’s important to know where the money you donate to charity will be going. Websites like Charity Navigator use data to calculate the amount of money that organizations actually spend on charitable giving. You should generally look for charities that don’t spend more than 30% of their income on overhead costs. However, be aware that these sites tend to focus on larger charities and that you might have difficulty finding a local charity you’re considering.
If you’re spoiled for choice and can’t quite decide which charity to give to, or you can’t find one that meets your specifications, you can give to an organization like Bright Funds. Bright Funds uses charity scoring websites like the ones mentioned above to determine which organizations are the best in a given area and organizes them into “baskets,” distributing donations between all the charities listed. So if you don’t have the time to vet your charities, or you would rather give to a broader overall cause, websites like Bright Funds are a great choice.
When you make sure to research and consider each of your charities carefully before giving, you can maximize the impact your donation has and feel confident that it will be used in a way you approve of.