Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Feeling charitable? How not to get ripped off

Around the holidays, people often donate to charity. There are 1.5 million nonprofits--how can you judge which ones rate your hard-earned money?

Laura Fredericks is a charity expert.She once raised a million bucks in 24 hours.

She recommends you check your charity of choice with a reputable watchdog organization.

Charity Navigator ( has been around since 2001 and rates by "stars"--1 being lowest, 4 being highest. It looks at the organization's financial health, accountability, and transparency--and now is looking at effectiveness.

GuideStar ( gathers info on IRS-registered organizations.

Also the Better Business Bureau--BBB Wise Giving Alliance publishes 20,000 reports. Go to resources.

Then go to the charity website and download last three annual reports. Red flags are board and staff turnover. Different names each year--caution.

See where their funds went. Make sure at least 80% went to the mission.

See where the funds came from--you want to see individual gifts or bequests--around 80%.

I give through our local newspaper fund drive at the holidays--the paper matches the gifts.

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