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How to Know If a Charity Is Legitimate and Worthy of Your Support

There are charities for everything nowadays. Cancer, childhood diseases, and misfortunes of all kinds. The all encompassing United Way, Red Cross, disabled veterans, soup kitchens, heart transplants, and a myriad of other causes, conditions, and situations. A person can even set up a GoFundMe page or a Face Book page to raise money for a specific purpose.

How does a person navigate through all the information to determine which charity or cause is doing the most good? Perhaps most importantly, which nonprofit organization is doing the most to further their mission? Which charity or nonprofit organization or charity is the best one to contribute to?

I learned about raising money for various causes, and how to judge the efficiency and ethical character of a nonprofit organization in a class I took at the university I used to attend (University of North Texas).

That class at the university along with working for a short time for a non-profit organization that raised all their money by phone gave me insights I had never considered before. What I learned is by no means comprehensive on the subject, but it is enough to help the ordinary person decide what charity or service organization they may want to contribute their resources to, whether money or time.

The nonprofit I worked for was legal, but I personally think it was as unethical as any organization could possibly be, and that is one of the reasons I am writing this article. I hope this article will help people to know how to judge when an organization is reputable and when it is not. Lots of things are legal, but are they ethical? Not necessarily.

For obvious reasons I cannot divulge the name of the nonprofit I worked for, nor what states it operates in. I can tell you it is operating in more states all the time, so if it is not currently in your state, it likely soon will be. Even if it is not, there are probably similar nonprofits that are operating in the state where you live.

Where To Start

If a nonprofit organization is at least a year old, it should be listed on You can easily visit this website and check out charity organizations and nonprofit organizations all over the U.S. You need only register as a user and there is no charge for their basic information. Just go to Register as a user to get information on thousands of different nonprofit organizations or charities.

If you do not have a particular organization in mind, but favor a specific cause such as children’s needs or organizations that help people break the habit of drug dependency, just type in the kind of cause you are interested in and the name of the largest city near you, as well as the state in which that city is located.

Organizations that meet the description you put in the search box will come up and you can check them out as to exactly what they do, who their main office holders and administrators are, who qualifies for their help, how efficiently their revenues are used, and much more.

If the location of the organization is not important to you, do not put a city and state in the search box. Just put the type of organization you are interested in knowing more about. Your search will find all organizations that meet your description of the type of organization that interests you from all over the United States. You can then search through them all to see if any of them meet your interests.

Type in the name of the charity/nonprofit you want to check out if you know it, and the city and state where it is located. Once you bring up that organization, you will find a wealth of information about it.

Learn What the 990 Form Can Tell You

The first thing you will want to do is click on the “start your search” button. From there you will want to click the “read more” button. After that you will want to click the tab “forms 990 and docs.”

The 990 form will tell you a great deal. It is the tax return required of all 501 (c) (3) organizations by our government. It may be filed on a fiscal year basis, or at the beginning of each new year.

You want to look at line 12 on the 990 Form. What was the total revenue taken in by the organization according to their most recent 990 form? The amount on line 12 will tell you the answer to that.

Next look at line 17 where it will tell you the organizations total expenses for the year. That total includes administrative and other costs, as well as fundraising costs.

Ideally 90% of All the Organization's Revenue Should Go To the Stated Mission Of the Organization

Ideally, the total expenses for the year of any non-profit organization should not exceed 10% of their revenue. It should definitely not exceed 15%. If it exceeds 15%, then it is not being run as efficiently as it should be.

Ideally, 90% of the revenue should be going to the purpose or mission of the organization. Another words, 90% of all the revenue (money) the organization receives from all sources should be going to help the homeless, or maintain the historical buildings, rescue abused and neglected animals, or whatever the purpose and mission of the organization is stated to be.

If you find that less than 80% of the revenue is going for the purpose or mission of the organization, I would definitely recommend you reconsider your contribution and look for a different charity or service organization.

It is a simple thing to check out any non-profit organization on and there may be other websites with this information also. Most of the information you will need and receive from is free.

Study the 990 Form and Get Familiar and Comfortable With It

There is a great deal of information on the 990 Form and I recommend you study it and familiarize yourself with it. Do not let it intimidate you. A little bit of careful study will help you feel comfortable with it and you will obtain a great deal of information that will help you to know what charities are working the hardest to accomplish their mission.

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Some Different Organizations That Depend On Contributions But Are Not Charities

Some organizations may not be nonprofits. Again, you want to consider what their purpose is. I have seen websites that say, “If you have benefitted from any of the information here, please send a contribution to help maintain this site and assure that it remains on the web.” There is nothing wrong with this.

The site may have saved you time finding much needed information, or it may contribute to your life, and to society in general, in other positive and important ways. You know why you are being asked to contribute and what your money is going for. It is likely not a nonprofit organization nor claiming to be one. Generally they are looking for small donations in line with the benefit you have received by accessing it.

If you have benefitted from the website, then it makes sense that you might donate whatever you feel the information you received is worth.

Get Informed Before You Contribute

Some organization’s requests may not be so clear. You may receive a phone call that requests your donation to help support the police or firefighters, or a local hospital, etc. Do not assume your local, county, or state police, are aware of this organization making calls in your area. Do not assume your local, country, or state law enforcement agencies approve of, or support what these organizations are doing.

Anyone can place a call telling you they are benefiting any number of things that you might on the face of it approve of, but if you look deeper, they may be trying to take advantage of both you and whomever they claim to be trying to help.

In this situation, unless I personally knew the administrators of the organization, I would get the exact name of the organization, write it down, and tell them they can call back later after I check them out. Better yet, get their number and call them back once you have had a chance to determine if they are truly a worthwhile organization. If they are unwilling to give you time to do that, and give you all kinds of reasons why they cannot call back, and why you need to commit to a pledge or donation right then, I would simply hang up the phone.

There are organizations that technically qualify as charities or nonprofits, but most of the revenue goes to the organization’s officers or to fundraising expenses. As little as 10% of the money you contribute to these organizations may be going to the mission, or so-called purpose of the organization.

My personal inclination, when I learn that a nonprofit is spending more than 25% of their revenue on operating expenses, is to just say no. Do not be afraid to ask questions of the caller. The caller should be able to tell you how much of the revenue goes to the mission. If they do not know the answer to that question, ask to speak to their supervisor. If no one is able to give you the answer to that simple question, I recommend you tell them you will call them back later after you have had an opportunity to find the answer for yourself.

Telephone and television fundraisers tend to be the most expensive ways of raising money and often very little of the money raised goes for the cause, purpose, or mission of the organization sponsoring the fundraiser. Most of the funds raised by these two methods go to pay for the fundraiser itself. When you see organizations using these methods to raise money, you might want to question how efficient they are being run.

I would again direct you to to get the answers to the questions you may have, such as where is an organization’s money being spent?

Some Celebrities Who Have Given the Most to Charity in 2012

George Clooney was one of the most generous celebrities of 2012 in regard to contributing to charities.

George Clooney was one of the most generous celebrities of 2012 in regard to contributing to charities.

Lady Gaga was one of the most generous celebrity contributors to charity in 2012.

Lady Gaga was one of the most generous celebrity contributors to charity in 2012.

Miley Cyrus was one of the most generous celebrity contributors to charity in 2012.

Miley Cyrus was one of the most generous celebrity contributors to charity in 2012.

Brad PItt was one of the most generous celebrity contributors to charity in 2012.

Brad PItt was one of the most generous celebrity contributors to charity in 2012.

Selena Gomez was one of the most generous celebrity contributors to charity in 2012.

Selena Gomez was one of the most generous celebrity contributors to charity in 2012.

More from Au Fait and Friends About How to Find a Credible Charity to Support


C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 28, 2018:

Peggy Woods, thank you for adding another reference for my readers to check if they have questions about a charity. I agree that charities should be honest and truthful when asking for donations. They should state what the donation will be used for and then follow through. Fraud and misleading information hurts the people who need help and they are already hurting enough or they wouldn't need help.

Personally, I think what is legal for charities is often appalling. It is legal for charities to spend 80% of what they take in on administrative and fund raising activities. This is dishonest IMHO. At least 80% of any donations should always go to the purpose or cause of the organization, not into paying private bills of the person(s) who created the charity or any of their cronies.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 25, 2018: is another free way to check out the ratings of charitable organizations. It is always good to know that any donated dollars are being spent wisely.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 29, 2017:

Vera Shadi, thank you for commenting. I'm so glad you have found this article informative and helpful!

Vera Shadi on November 27, 2017:

thank you. This is the information most of us need to find before donating.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 04, 2015:

Patricia (pstraubie48), I think what you're doing makes the most sense. Whatever it takes to know for sure how your money is being used and that its going where you think it is. Some places just put it in their own pocket/bank account and that's my beef. So long as it's benefiting unfortunate people I'm OK, but when it's a scam, that's another matter. Thank you for reading, sharing your thoughts on, voting on, g+ing, tweeting, and sharing this article!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on March 03, 2015:

This is so important. I was just reading an article the other day about some organization wanting donations for a 'cause'...and I just shook my head.

I donate to agencies directly that I know, locally.

It is important though to know of Guidestar and I will be passing this info along to my friends and family.

Voted up+++ and shared g+ tweeted

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 18, 2015:

DeborahDian, thank you for coming by and commenting. Some Americans are generous it's true, but I think if Americans were truly generous we wouldn't hear the ugly things people say about homeless people. Homeless people wouldn't be set on fire or hassled by the police. I wouldn't have written the article articles about poverty and mean cities if people were truly generous, because none of these things I wrote about would have happened.

The so-called nonprofit organizations that take advantage of people's good will and that pay out 80% or more to themselves and a handful of employees are the ones people need to be looking out for. That is why it's so important to know a charity well before contributing.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 18, 2015:

Open, I guess you aren't a Christian and I wonder how strongly you would feel about these things if you were the needy person, or one of your children was homeless and hungry? Sometimes life deals a bad hand and the person who receives it is not at fault. Regardless of that, Jesus helped the poor and made no qualifications. Thank you for stopping by.

Deborah Carr from Orange County, California on February 17, 2015:

American are so generous. This article is one that everyone should read, because we all want to make sure that our donations do the most good. Voted up and shared!

Open on January 20, 2015:

I dont believe in CHARITY DONATIONS or HELP. Everything is catlpaiism. Give and you will get. Nature is that way. There is no free thing. You need to close Red Cross Lions Club etc . Instead do useful works like SIRUTHULI in Coimbatore (cleaning water reservoirs to harvest rainwater), RWH (rainwater harvesting in Chennai), SULABH (creating public restrooms for hygiene), these are useful for the people. ANUBHAV (plant trees on the side of the roads). I didn't say, feed poor people etc. That is something they must work and earn themselves. No Free TV's. No Free Eggs. No Free Food in the name of Sathunavu etc. Your parents must work and with the money earned they must send you to decent school for you to study. As such, the schools must not collect donations and overcharged fees If everybody does everything proper then the world will be a better place.. Everybody is living in metaphors and imaginary worlds That is the problem

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 24, 2014:

sun.sush23, thank you for reading and commenting on this article. Hopefully lots of people outside of HubPages will also find this article useful since people coming from search engines are the views we get paid for. :)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 23, 2014:

Melinda Longoria, thank you for reading and commenting on this article! The information is out there. One simply has to make the effort to find it. :)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 21, 2014:

Shyron, thank you for visiting this article! It is against the law everywhere that I know of to kill tigers. They're protected. That doesn't mean there aren't any poachers, but I think it would be risky to show tiger skins in a commercial if one couldn't prove where it came from. There's an horrific fine that goes with poaching when caught, and maybe even jail time. I suspect the skins were either from a legal kill a while back, or fake fur.

The best thing is to check the 990 form of any charity to find out where their money comes from and especially how it is being spent.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 19, 2014:

PegCole17, thank you for coming back and sharing your experience with me and my readers.

There are individuals, organizations, and groups who are honestly trying to raise money for charity who may only do a once a year effort, and of course they won't be listed here. They may set up a table in a local grocery store or have some sort of 'event' somewhere for the purpose of raising money. If you know these people then you can be more confident the money will be given to the charity named. If you aren't certain, you could give it a couple of weeks and then call that charity and see if they received money from that person or organization.

So glad you found this article useful!

Sushmita from Kolkata, India on October 16, 2014:

This is a very important topic you've discussed here...I have only recently been made aware that the efficiency and purposefulness of a charitable organization is measurable ...and as you have informed here...I think many of our friends on HubPages will find this very useful...thank you.

Melinda Longoria MSM from Garland, Texas on October 16, 2014:

Information like this should be available like a warning label when charities solicit funds. Great hub! :-)

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on October 16, 2014:

I think about this hub every time I see the commercial on TV about saving the tigers and wonder about the skins on the ground, were the two killed just to make the picture so people would give to save them.

Somehow, I don't trust them.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on October 16, 2014:

This information was truly useful to me today after being asked to purchase a book where fifty percent of the proceeds will go to a specific charity. I was able to pull a 990 report that detailed the salaries of the founders and was truly impressed that they drew zero funds from the donations. Thank you again, for a useful site that I'll be bookmarking and using regularly.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 11, 2014:

PegCole17, thank you for reading and sharing your thoughts on this article and this important subject. When I took the class at university regarding introduction to fundraising, there were several websites brought to my attention both by my instructor and in the textbook. Unfortunately I don't remember the other websites, but I checked them out at the time and liked this one best.

I've never received any unwanted phone calls or mailings, either snail or email, since registering with this site. In fact, I have received nothing at all in the way of any kind of communications as a result of registering on this site. I had to register in order to do the assignments for my class.

It's always good to put your money where you feel it will do the most good. I think that is a concern people often have when they give to charity -- how much of a person's money is actually going to the cause. The 990 form will tell you that.

The main thing to remember is that a well run organization doesn't spent more than 10% of what they take in for fundraising or administrative expenses. I would also be leary of certain types of fundraising as TV and phone center fundraising costs the earth compared with most other methods. Sometimes it's lucky if there is anything leftover to apply to the cause after paying all the expenses of raising the money through TV and Phone methods.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on October 10, 2014:

Peggy W, thank you for G+ing and sharing this article! I hope George brings some attention to this article too. :)

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on October 06, 2014:

This is good information to know before donating to a charity. I did a brief check on the site you mentioned,, and although I'm not willing to register at the present time, it looks like a source where a lot of useful data can be found. I tried looking up Goodwill since I've always been interested in their profit margin and was able to get a basic pdf report of the 990 form but it was too fuzzy to really delve into all the particulars of the numbers. I'm sure if I registered, that I could gain a lot more from the reports. I'll be checking back into this useful information.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on October 05, 2014:

I'll G+ this good article. With George Clooney just recently getting married, his image might bring more attention to this hub. Will also share again with HP followers.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 29, 2014:

Hackslap, thank you for coming by. There are lots of good charities out there, but unfortunately there are a few that always seem to ruin things for everyone. Having a way to check up on charitable organizations is a good thing if you are not personally familiar with their operations.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 28, 2014:

Thank you Peggy W for sharing and Google+ing this article. I agree because I personally know of so-called charities that bank 80% of the take in their own pockets -- and it's legal!

Harry from Sydney, Australia on June 27, 2014:

I generally stick to the well established charities like Red Cross and MSF (apart from occasional donations to Amnesty and Oxfam) .. I'm generally a bit averse towards contributing to religious charities matter how good or well intentioned their work is ...

anyway ..very insightful hub as always from you :) ..voted up!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 24, 2014:

Sharing this on Google+. More people should be cognizant of checking out charities to make sure that the money they donate truly goes for a good cause. Will share this again with my followers.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 30, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for pinning this article!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 29, 2013:

Pinning this again to the Awesome Hubpages board. Hope it gets more attention!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 27, 2013:

Thank you Deborah-Diane for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! Hope your Christmas was fantastic and that you and your family will all have a great 2014!

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on December 24, 2013:

Excellent article! People really do need to take the time to make sure the charities they support are legitimate. At this time of year when so many people reach out to others, let's all make sure our donations are well-used!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 23, 2013:

Thank you moonlake, for pinning and sharing this article! With so much need out there right now, it's even more important to make sure charities are legit so the money given doesn't end up feathering the nest of a charlatan.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 16, 2013:

Shyron, thank you for commenting on, voting on, and sharing this article! There are quite a few 'charities' out there that spend only 20% or less of what they take in on their so-called purpose. Those are the ones to look out for and if they've been in operation for a year or longer then they will have had to file a 990 report by law. Good way to separate the charities that really help people, animals, and the environment, from the ones that exist solely to fill the pockets of the founders and fundraisers.

With so many people in need these days, I think it's important to give where it will do the most good, i.e., help the most people in need.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on November 15, 2013:

Indian Chef, thank you for commenting on this article and sharing your country's views on this subject. There are charities here also, that are just as questionable as what you describe, which is why I urge people to do a little research and check out their 990 forms that are required by law and available to the general public.

moonlake from America on November 14, 2013:

This hub has lots of good information for this time of year when people are really giving more. Thought I would share and pin.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on November 13, 2013:

Au fait, fantastic information, very important, for all who want to give but don't want to be a blood bank for leeches. Voted up, UAI, shared.

Indian Chef from New Delhi India on November 13, 2013:

Au Fait, most Indians do not give to charity because of the corruption and most of the charities usually divert money to their own bank accounts. Thanks for the tips, they are quite good. voted up and shared.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 29, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for commenting and tweeting this article!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on September 26, 2013:

This will be my first tweet of the day in order to once again share this good hub with others. When times are tight, every dollar counts and we want to make sure any money given to charities ends up being spent wisely and judiciously.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on August 18, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W for sharing this article!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 15, 2013:

Sharing again because this is such important information to consider.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 26, 2013:

Thank you for your support Shyron. For always being there to do what you can. I really appreciate that. The information herein is important because nowadays there are so many people in need that every penny and every dollar needs to stretch as far as possible. All the more reason to make sure the charity you help with either your money or your time is using their resources as wisely as possible.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on July 25, 2013:

Thank you Deborah-Diane for reading, commenting, voting on and pinning/tweeting this hub. Agree that one needs to think about where there money will do the most good and not just give blindly. There are far more scams out there now that most people realize. Most of them use television and telephone calls to raise money, but some also use the mail. Usually the less expensive their fund raising activities the more frugal and worthwhile their purpose. Only takes a minute to check out their 990 form and see for yourself where their money goes.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on July 22, 2013:

Fantastic information Au fait, very important, voted up, UAI, shared and pinned.

Deborah-Diane from Orange County, California on July 22, 2013:

This is important information and I pinned it to my Money Making and Saving board. Many people have been scammed by dishonest charities which is a particular shame because there are so many worthwhile charities that could have done something useful with that money. So, one crooked charity can hurt many people. Helping people find legitimate charities is so important. Voted up, pinned and Tweeted.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on June 13, 2013:

Peggy W, thank you for pinning this hub!

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on June 08, 2013:

Going to pin this informative hub to my Useful Tips and Ideas board. Thanks for writing it. :)

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 10, 2013:

Thank you Brett.Tesol for reading, commenting, voting on, and pinning/tweeting/sharing this hub! All you say is true, which is why I wrote this hub so that people can check up on charities before they give or get involved donating time, etc.

Brett C from Asia on May 02, 2013:

What you say here is so true. Unfortunately many charities only actually give less that 10 percent to the people they are supposed to be helping. What is worse, many businesses register as 'not for profit', but just pay all the money out as 'salaries/bonuses' and are actually businesses ...

Shared, pinned, tweeted, up and useful.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on March 17, 2013:

Thank you Shyron for thinking of me and this hub and letting me know it has been helpful to someone. With so many charities collecting millions of dollars and then using only 10-20% for their presumed purpose, one can't be too careful these days.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on March 14, 2013:

When my friend Jane in Houston asked me a question about something that you answered in this hub. I sent her the link. She said to tell you, thank you.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 03, 2013:

Thank you for commenting on this hub and for sharing your experience, Shyron. Some so-called charities can be pretty outrageous if anyone bothers to check into them and it's sad because there are a lot of good ones that follow through and try to help people, and the bad ones make people skittish about giving.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 02, 2013:

my_girl_sara, thank you for commenting on this hub and for sharing your experience.

If you go to you can easily check any charity or nonprofit's 990 form which they must file yearly just like we all must file a tax form yearly. That form will tell you where an organization's money comes from and how it is spent. You can then make up your own list of favorite charities. Personally, I prefer local charities so that I can see the good they're myself.

If you look at the Red Cross's 990 form for the most recent year it's available (probably 2012 since it's now early in the year) you will see that it does indeed stay within the most desirable guidelines of using just 10% of it's revenues for administrative and fundraising costs.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on February 01, 2013:

Thank you Peggy W, for reading, commenting, voting, sharing, and linking to this hub! Supporting good charities that make a real difference is so important!

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 31, 2013:

mperrottet, thank you for reading, commenting, voting, and sharing this hub! 16% for administrative and fundraising costs could use a bit of improvement, but it's still pretty good for what is probably a small charity. I think one needn't expect perfection, but when it gets to where only 16% is going for the purpose of the charity, that is unacceptable.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 30, 2013:

Thank you Mary, for reading and commenting, voting and sharing this hub! Agree that we want our money to go where we are told it's going to go, and not in the pockets of people who often already have plenty. So many charities really exist just to create an income for a particular person or group of people and like I said, as little as 10-20% may be going to the so-called purpose of the charity while 80% or more goes to the creators of the charity, and it really should be just the opposite.

Shyron E Shenko from Texas on January 29, 2013:

Voting you UAI, I never thought about checking on where the money was going before.. I remember one organization who gave more than a million yearly to it's CEO, and stopped giving to them.

Thank you for this informative information.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 28, 2013:

kcreery, thank you for commenting on this hub. When you get a chance you might want to read it and then you will see that I have covered all of those issues you mentioned in this hub. Best wishes with your charity!

Cynthia Lyerly from Georgia on January 28, 2013:

I don't think the American Red Cross gives 90% of it's money away.

Wish you had included a list of "approved" organizations--even a short one. I know there are lots that do a great job.

Also, I think churches, which are non-profits, need to be looked at with greater scrutiny. We have left 2 churches now because they did not, and would not, disclose their finances. Really?

Nice hub idea! Glad to see you turned your lemons into lemonade!

Mary Craig from New York on January 28, 2013:

This is not only a timely hub but a very, very important hub. I have become familiar with a few instances where only 35% of money raised actually went to the charity or organization. Some organizations 'hired' to raise money for a charity or non-profit organization keep the other 65% for themselves!

This is very valid and helpful information Aufait. I have a feeling will be getting a lot of hits thanks to this very helpful and useful hub....we want to contribute but we need to be sure the money is going where we want it too.

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.

Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on January 28, 2013:

This is great information. I have been contributing to a local food bank for a couple of years, and when I checked them out found out that about 84% of their funds are actually used to buy and distribute food. That's not too bad, although it does look as if they could do better. I will always check in the future before I donate, and am very glad to have run across this hub. Voted up, useful, interesting - and sharing!

Kevin from Whistler Canada on January 28, 2013:

Check out what they charge for administration and fundraising. Make sure it's a percentage of their budget that you are comfortable with. Find out how much of every dollar you give pays for administration. I would go to the charity's website and see their audit and financial information. That would give you additional information to give you peace of mind. I am the President of the Community Foundation of Whistler ( We charge admin fees of 1.5% and we only have one part time staff. I know larger national and international charities tend to have bigger admin fees. Make sure you donate to your local charity each year.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 27, 2013:

Hi Au fait,

Thanks for raising awareness of the importance of checking out charities before you donate your time and effort in supporting them. I have also written a hub titled Supporting Charities and Saving Lives ~ Donations to Charities...and will link this hub to mine. Voted up and useful and will share.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on January 12, 2013:

Thank you moonlake, for commenting on this hub. Think I know the large charity you're referring to and I've heard a lot of negative things about it. I don't give to it either. One reason I wrote this hub is to share some of the knowledge I learned in the class I took at the university about judging the usefulness and integrity of charities. Thanks for the vote too!

moonlake from America on January 11, 2013:

There is one large charity organization we will not give to. My husband's dad and my dad told us what they were like during the war. I have seen many times in this day and age when they have dropped the ball and did things they shouldn't have done.

Great hub good information. Voted up

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on May 25, 2012:

Angel: Thank you for commenting on my hub and I'm so glad it has been useful to you!

Angel Mehsinjer from United States on May 24, 2012:

This article is really helpful. I never knew there was a place where you could check up on charities or find out how much of what they take in is actually used to benefit their cause. A friend was telling me you have to be careful about fake charities and now I know how to find out if they are for real or not. I didn't know the gov regulates them either.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on December 20, 2011:

Jonny Windows: It is amazing what passes for a nonprofit charitable organization these days.

Thank you for your addition to the conversation!

jonny windows on December 18, 2011:

its in more recent times that the charities here in the UK have become big business. they now have high street shops, no longer selling the bargains of yesteryear that i loved to rummage thru and they have big new vans collecting goods on organized rounds. its all wrong and i hope it somehow backfires on them- the govt should step in and outlaw the big boys up in the chain. i understand you have "thrift shops" in the states, maybe they are better with a proper soul

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 17, 2011:

There are indeed many good charities and nonprofit organizations doing good work and I just hope my article will help them find those charities more easily. Thank your Dr. Ali, for taking the time to read and comment on my article.

Dr Maaruf Ali on September 17, 2011:

This is well researched and carefully written article that describes the essential key tests one needs to carry out to determine the efficacy and legal status of any (US) charity organisation. A similar body in the UK to check is:

I agree 100% with what has been written. It should also be noted that there are some charities who are 100% efficient as all the staff contribute from their own pockets to run the charities themselves! Well done again on another quality article.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 12, 2011:

Thank you Keith, for taking the time to read and comment on my article. ;)

Keith Storey on September 12, 2011:

What Au Fait discribes is a potential minefield, thats why here in England I stick to well known cancer charities and my conscience is clear, no matter how many rattling tins are thrust under my nose.

C E Clark (author) from North Texas on September 11, 2011:

The thing that disturbed me was sitting amongst people who were convicts verbally forcing unemployed people and elderly people to give money they didn't want to give and could't afford to give, and worse (IMO) only 20% of the money they did give was going to mission.

This is not the case with all charities/nonprofits. There are lots of legitimate nonprofits out there doing good. It's just a matter of finding them. Thank you jonny windows for taking the time to read and comment on my hub!

jonny windows on September 11, 2011:

I would think that many charity organizations are very powerful and all seeing these days.

Your insight into their world probably was disturbing to you . I will certainly bear your article in mind ,when i next donate to charity

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