Give to Charity

European Refugee Crisis Relief

Nonprofits across Europe and the Middle East are providing medical care, shelter, food, water, and more to those affected by and involved in the refugee crisis. Other nonprofits are gathering resources for their colleagues on the scene.

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How to Be a Super Donor: GuideStar's Guide to Picking the Right Charity and Saving the WorldHow to Be a Super Donor

GuideStar's Tips for Picking the Right Charity and Saving the World

You work hard for your money. So how can you ensure that your charitable donation isn’t wasted? Follow these five simple steps to ensure that you give with your head as well as your heart:

  1. Clarify your values and preferences.

    Charities are as diverse as the people who donate. Don’t just give to the first one that solicits you: consider the type of charity that means the most to you—small or large; startup or established; serving locally, nationally, or internationally.

  2. Focus on the mission.

    Make sure a nonprofit has an easy-to-understand mission that aligns with your principles and beliefs. You can look up a specific nonprofit in GuideStar’s database of more than 1.8 million organizations, or use the advanced search to find charities by category, size, and location.

  3. Verify a charity's legitimacy.

    Let’s face it: there are sham nonprofits out there. If you see a big green check mark next to “Registered with IRS” on a nonprofit’s GuideStar profile, you know it’s legitimate. No check mark means further investigation is required.

    • If the charity is not on GuideStar, ask to see its IRS letter of determination.
    • If the organization is faith-based, ask to see its official listing in a directory for its denomination.
  4. Get the facts.

    Once you find a nonprofit that meets your basic requirements, dig a bit deeper. Pay attention to factors most relevant to nonprofit performance—results, transparency, and leadership—and don’t focus on overhead ratios (see www.overheadmyth. com). Visit a nonprofit’s website. Read its annual report. And look for the GuideStar Exchange participation logo for an easy indication that the charity is transparent. Look for the Gold GuideStar Exchange logo to dig into what a charity is aiming to accomplish, the progress it has made, and what it still wants to do in order to meet its mission.

  5. Trust your instincts.

    Your donation should make you happy! If you have concerns about a charity, don’t contribute to it. Instead, find another nonprofit that does the same kind of work and makes you feel more comfortable. Reputable charities:

    • Are willing to send you literature about their work or direct you to a website.
    • Don’t use pressure tactics.
    • Take “no” for an answer.

Other Resources for Picking the Right Charity

General Charity Research

  • Overhead Myth—nonprofit financial accountability is important. Financial ratios, however, reveal little about a nonprofit's effectiveness. GuideStar, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator have joined forces to help donors and nonprofits focus on the metrics that matter most: those that show how well an organization is accomplishing its mission.
  • Focusing on Nonprofit Impact—the impact tabs in our nonprofit reports pull together information that can help you assess individual organizations' impact.
  • Donor Bill of Rights—donors have rights. Do you know what they are?
  • Questions to Ask a Nonprofit before Investing in It—use these questions to guide conversations with nonprofits you're thinking of supporting.
  • Articles Especially for Donors—learn more from these articles on giving effectively.

Disaster Relief and Recovery

Donor Research

The landmark research project Money for Good II identifies what donors want to know before they give to charity and how contributors can make sure their charitable dollars have the most impact.

Expert Reviews and Analyses

TakeAction@GuideStar provides expert analyses of nearly 40 causes and lists the organizations experts have identified as having the most impact in those areas.