Allow me to sound old for a moment. Back when I was a kid, donating to charity was simple. There were only a few charities out there that everyone donated to, and you trusted that they were doing good work with your money.
But in 2019, that’s not the case. There are thousands of charities out there and often times local chapters operate independently of the national organization. Certain philanthropies may support one issue we care about, while working against other issues important to us.
Even worse, on occasion, we find out our trust is misplaced. Remember when we found out the CEO of Komen was making upwards of $600,000 per year. People should be compensated fairly, but that salary dwarfs the national average several times over, and many (myself included) wondered what else that money could be doing.
One way to select good charities is to use Charity Navigator. Now, keep in mind, Charity Navigator is a business (& charity) itself. But as a starting point, it can be really helpful in evaluating a charity. Charity navigator looks at the information provided on IRS Form-990 which is the form charities must fill out every year. From there, they evaluate the financial health, transparency and accountability. They look at how much of the money raised and donated goes to operations (like marketing and fundraising) versus research or programs.
So, for example, if you were disillusioned by Komen, a search on Charity Navigator would show you that Breast Cancer Research Foundation that nearly 90 percent of their revenue goes directly towards programs and research. That’s one reason that, despite the continuing high profile of Komen, we choose to donate to BCRF.
When charities aren’t available on Charity Navigator (you have to be a certain size, etc), we try to use these criteria as guiding metrics in evaluating organizations and their works. After all, Que Linda is still too new/small to be evaluated by Charity Navigator, so we know there’s value in the small guys, too!
If you’re looking for a charity go help a cause you’re passionate about, Charity Navigator is a great place to start.