Give without being taken
Americans are famously generous, and famously gullible. Charity Navigator packs powerful tools to show you which groups are spending their benevolence dollars well.
The New Jersey-based organization uses a four-star rating system for more than 5,300 charities, grading for efficiency, donor privacy and other standards. The info takes the shape of easy-to-grasp numbers, pie charts, bar graphs and clearly written evaluations.
The site uses Flash for more than splash. Hover your mouse pointer over a pie chart or bar graph, and up pop the numbers. Flash also powers a world map: Click South America, then Peru, to find the 17 four-star charities working there.
One caveat: The data may lag a couple of years because of reporting lead times. Also, to get some facts, you have to register with Charity Navigator, but it’s free.
Want a shortcut? Click the list of “Slam-Dunk Charities,” each of them rating four stars. Or try “Charities Worth Watching” — top-rated groups that run on less than $2 million a year.
The lists include not only good groups, but also “Inefficient Fundraisers” and “Charities Drowning in Administrative Costs.” One surprise: The American Cancer Society — a charity giant, spending more than $940 million a year — gets a mere two stars.
Yet another resource: Several sets of valuable tips, like “Six questions to ask” and “What to do when a charity calls.”