How to Compare Charities

How to Compare Charities

It can be hard to resist can’t it, giving donations to help those lovable puppies with the big brown eyes, or starving children covered in flies, but reality is that giving to the charities with the aggressive advertising campaigns are not always the best ways to make your donation count.

Charities are non profit therefore tax exempt corporations which provide social, educational, humanitarian or religious services to those who need our help the most. If you can’t decide which charity you want to donate to, there are a number of ways in which you can compare them.

How to Compare Charities – Information

Charities often give out printed information, that’s how they tell you why your donations are so urgently needed, so compare the information leaflets carefully. There are also three websites which can give you information you need to compare and evaluate different charities –  Guidestar, Charity Navigator and The Urban Institution’s National Center for Charitable Statistics. There you’ll find tons of information – location, financial, incorporation details etc. You should also look at the website for each of the individual charities you want to compare, check carefully the:

  • History and background – how long have they been operating, that sort of thing
  • Finances – how much they have raised, where the money goes to and how much of it gets there
  • Mission – all charities have a mission statement, which one is closest to your heart
  • Services – what services do they offer, do they run a home or a mission for example
  • Staff – do they have offices full of “fat cat” organizers with top of the range automobiles, or just a handful of dedicated volunteers
  • Accomplishments – what have they actually achieved

Charities do also need to fulfil certain legal requirements. You can check up on the charities you want to compare at the IRS website (irs.gov) “Charities and Nonprofits” page where you will be able to verify the tax-exempt status of any charities.

How to Compare Charities

At the end of the day, most of us give to charities using our hearts and not necessarily our heads. We give to the charities which support matters which we feel are important, maybe our lives have been touched by something which the charity supports, or maybe we read about some disaster in the newspapers or saw it on the television, like Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused.

There are thousands of legitimate charities which all desperately need our support, of course, we can’t help them all, so it’s important to make sure that what donations we do make are used to the best possible effect.


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