3 November, 2015
By Joe Callison
It is that time of year when many of us respond to charitable giving appeals. With so many charitable organizations competing for donors dollars, you would think organizations would be motivated to be as efficient as possible to attract donors, but that is not always the case. There are many fundraising organizations with big advertising budgets and high salaries that use a relatively small percentage of their receipts for their own programs or grants to other charitable organizations.
If you are like me and want your donations to go where they can do the most good, it is wise to check the performance of a charity against their peers. You could obtain a copy of the organization’s recent Form 990 filings with the Internal Revenue Service to do your own evaluation of their performance. Here is a website to assist in getting information on charities:
There are also several charity watchdog organizations providing charity ratings that you can use instead of doing your own research and evaluation.
The Federal Trade Commission also has a website providing good consumer information on charitable giving:
Occasionally investigations of charities can reveal some shocking data. The Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting published a ranking of the WORST charities, ranked by money blown on soliciting costs, updated in December 2014. Many of these charities have names that are very similar to other charities with much better ratings so they can trick donors into giving.