Contributed by Jessie F



Donating to charity makes me feel better.  I can support my favorite cause and know that I am doing some good.  When I give to a charity I expect that most of my money goes towards the cause, but after a recent donation to a new charity, my friend told me that the charity I donated to gives only 20% to the cause and 80% is spent on fundraising and administration fees.

I felt cheated and wanted to figure out how I can prevent this from happening again.    In order to be considered not-for-profit, an organization needs to file a Form 990 with the IRS.  The Statement of Revenue section breaks down how the charity spends its money.  This is often found on the charity’s website but some charities do not list them.  By law, they are required to give you a copy if you ask them for it.

There are several organizations that do all of this work for you.  Guidestar and Charity Navigator break down the cost, post reviews and let you know pertinent details about the charity.

You can also check out the Better Business Bureau’s rating of a charity.  They have 23 different standards for a charity to be successful and they are the first contact when someone is scammed.  The website can be difficult to navigate so if you have trouble, give your local BBB office a call.

Be sure to check out your favorite charities before you donate and see how they rate.

Have you done a value-check on your favorite charity? We invite you to share what you discovered in the box below.