You want to give to charity, but you're not sure your money will be spent wisely.
You want to give back to your community, but want to make sure your hours of volunteer time really help.
Even if the recession is technically ending, more and more Americans are out of work, and may need the help of charities. Many struggling to find work may now find themselves with time aplenty to volunteer. Meanwhile, the economic downturn has taken the steam out of the donations, government and foundation grants, and endowments that typically keep many nonprofits afloat. Factoring in "underemployment" as well as unemployment, 83% of Americans who want to be employed remain fully employed. If you're among them, and you want to make a donation, then using these three sites can help you make your donation count. If you're out of work and want to volunteer, use these sites to help define which charity works best for you.
Why nonprofits? Mostly, according to the site -- itself a nonprofit -- because smaller community nonprofits do good work that too often goes unrecognized and unsupported. If a local charity makes big news, it's often because of an accounting scandal or some other miscue, rather than the day-to-day work that charities perform. By promoting those charities that real people have had good (and bad) experiences with, organizers hope to empower more charitable donating and volunteering.
In April, the site promoted green nonprofits, and found that its users had a lot to say about small organizations that are, for the most part, totally unknown outside of their local communities. With just 835 reviews of green charities, you won't find a comprehensive report on the charity of choice, but you may find some useful information to guide your decision-making, when it comes time to volunteer or donate. What you will find is just about every legal nonprofit in the U.S., because GreatNonprofits partners with ...
2. Guidestar.org is a very useful site that compiles tax filings of more than 1.8 million U.S. nonprofits, so everyone can see how nonprofit organizations compensate staff and otherwise spend their money. It's long been a resource for reporters trying to understand the inner workings of organizations, but it can be a useful for any citizen looking for information about an organization before making a donation.
But a tax form only tells you so much, and it isn't written in a user-friendly format, which brings us to ...
3. CharityNavigator.org, a site that evaluates 5,400 the most prominent nonprofits based on how they spend their money. If an organization spends 80% of its budget and staff time raising money, it's not delivering on its mission. If an organization spends 90% of its money on programs that support its mission consistently over time, that's a different story, and worthy of the hard-earned dollar in your donation. Charity Navigator aims to break down the effectiveness and fiscal health of an organization into a simple four-star rating so potential donors can make sure their dollars are being spent well.
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