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Tips for Giving Wisely to Charity

Updated on June 1, 2011

Use your heart and your head could be listed as one of the Tips for Giving Wisely to Charity. It is important that you give from your heart but your head needs to be involved in the process to ensure that what you give utilized appropriately. Charity because it does involve the heart and emotions is one place where the donor and the recipients get ripped off by schemers daily. Unfortunately one can no longer give money to just anyone and assume that they are honest and will indeed give to the needy. Those good ole days have come and gone. Everyday there is a new scam or another means for thieves to take your hard earn money and run for the hills.

I was a push over for years when it came to giving to beggars on the street, all kinds of charities, anyone with a sad story for that matter. Until one day I caught one of those individuals that I had just helped in a lie while they were attempting to run their scheme on their next victim. It was then that I realized that one must become wise in giving to charity or run the risk of helping thieves instead of those with a true need.

Most people will probably agree that one of the easiest times to give is during Christmas when Salvation Army volunteers are ringing their reminder bell outside of every shopping mall. This type of giving is a “no brainer” and many are so use to dropping in their change or a few dollars and moving onward. However, if you are going to support a charity on a routine basis you may need to look into doing some planning and research for organizations that fit your personal interests.

Become Proactive with Your Giving

This hub is being written during the time that the Haitian people are in need of help from the globe. As you know on January 12, 2010 an earthquake left Port-au-Prince, Haiti in shambles according to the New York Times as well as other media. I would ask that you utilize the guidelines that I have provided and make a decision to help in any means that you can. For example, Maxwell in the video to the right donated his song on Oprah earlier this week on iTunes for 24 hours for all proceeds to go to Haiti. Rihanna did the same with her Redemption song, however the video is not on YouTube at the time of this publishing.

One can become proactive with your giving by taking the time to plan a budget for your giving and figure out the kinds of causes you want to support. Then research the charities that you want to support within those causes. There are numerous nonprofits’ websites that provide their overviews of their missions online. However, if you want to be sure that you are supporting a legitimate charity it is important to do a little more research prior to making your decisions. Before going further maybe I should clarify what I mean by legitimate charity.

Research before You Give

Every time there is a tragedy as big as the one in Haiti, scammers and schemers get busy to prey on the empathy givers during this time. It’s only been a week and the FBI has already found scams and phishing networks looking to scoop down and devour the donations as quickly as they can.

One example given was a scam telling people that the donations have to be made payable immediately by way of Western Union Money Transfer. This is NOT so, if you see this type of propaganda a red flag should start waving in your mind. REPUTABLE charities WILL NOT do this. And please be leery of any unsolicited phone calls and or e-mails that you receive during this tragedy.

To me a legitimate charity is one that can prove it is true to its mission and does not absorb most of the funds given for other reasons. In other words, personally, I would prefer to support a charity that uses 10% and not more than 20% for administrative costs, that’s including office space, salaries, equipment and all other necessities of running the non-profit. Considering that non-profit entities should be generating some cash via a product and or a service, it is my belief that 20% administrative fees should be more than enough to run an operation.

Of course some in the financial arena are more lenient stating that no more than 30% of funds should be allowed for management and fundraising. Regardless, with a million charities within the United States alone; there are charity watchdog organizations that can provide you information that will assist you in being sure that your donations will actually make a difference. You can start your research with the organizations at your right:

Utilize the Internet

Be sure to take advantage of the online resources like the BBB that can help you weed through facts and figures about the success of an organization. The Charity Navigator reports on over 5,000 nonprofits in the U.S. sharing financial health details on how each organization’s budget is spent, vetting the charity, and providing financial efficiency ratings.

One supposedly can even download an organization’s 990 tax forms from Guidestar, which also provides details about nonprofits’ missions, programs, services, and tax records. You also have a right to request a copy of a charities most recent audited financial statement; but please discretion and only do this if you plan on contributing large donations to this particular charity.

Another good way to find information on charity is to just perform a Google search with the name of the charity and the word “scams.” This will reveal any reports that may have already been filed on the organization, or any negativity that may have made the news. However, I should mention that you should not use Google search alone to make a decision on a charity. Just because an organization appears first on a Google page does not mean this is the best charity to contribute funds. Many organizations (schemers and scammers included) pay money via Google Adsense to have their advertisements and or websites appear at the top and along the side of Google, Bing, Yahoo, MSN or whichever search engine one uses. 

It is also very very important that you pay close attention to domain names when you are contributing online.  An example is provided by an article in ComputerWorld that reflects the fact that and are two different domains and may or may not be the same affiliation. So always make sure you enter the correct exact domain name and do not just assume you've got the right one.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Does community reflect the giving?Is there evidence of empathy?Is there a helping hand reaching out?Are volunteers and recipients working together?
Does community reflect the giving?
Does community reflect the giving?
Is there evidence of empathy?
Is there evidence of empathy?
Is there a helping hand reaching out?
Is there a helping hand reaching out?
Are volunteers and recipients working together?
Are volunteers and recipients working together?

Compare their Words to their Actions

It will be easy to find all kinds of heartwarming stories of people being helped by many nonprofit groups. But, dig a little deeper to see if this organization is truly making an impact. Closely examine financial statements and annual reports for the last three to four years.

Are the goals that they set attainable and measurable goals that can provide evidence that supports the accomplishments were achieved? This may seem to be a frustrating process, however if you follow these tips on giving wisely to charity; the reward will be that once you’ve made your decisions about your charities you will feel confident that you’ve made wise decisions. Along with the satisfaction of knowing that the needy not the greedy are receiving help from your donations.


One of the best ways to get a clear picture of a charity’s values and management is to volunteer. Through volunteering one can gather more information about an organization than from just reading about it.

The real scoop will be revealed through the way management interacts with its donors as well as recipients. You will have an opportunity to see what is being done by the charitable organization for the recipients and you can speak with them to see what their true feelings are about the services and the overall programs.

Follow the Money to Haiti

Since Haiti is the current tragedy that is on the news I felt it was only fit to provide a few examples of how one might go about following the money trail during this time of giving. Bill Weir, reporter-Evening News on Tuesday 1/19/10 stated, “You would not give your money to an investor that started a week ago. Same goes with giving. Make sure they have at least been in Haiti for a while.”

On this particular day Bill Weir reported that Red Cross was the charity that had receives the most donations for Haiti so far. On that day $12 million with a fourth of those funds coming from text messaging (the new normal and most convenient way of giving).

However, Weir stated that the fastest way to get the funds to its destination is to go online to the charities website and pay by credit card. Weir also reported that for every $10 given to the Red Cross its breakdown will be as follows: .90 cents for administration, .91 cents to logistics, $4.55 food/water, and $3.64 to relief. Also the Red Cross is stating that all the funds that are donated to Haiti will go to Haiti. Supposedly unlike post 9-11 and post-Katrina the Red Cross is going to be doing the right thing because the watchdogs have demanded they improve their organization.

Ending Note...

I feel that I must note here that the example above is an instance of what should happen within a legitimate charity and the Red Cross is one of the biggest, most recommended organizations to use. However, it is not the only charitable organization that can handle your funds. From an individual standpoint, I have been disappointed several times by this organization; as well as the results of post 9-11 and post-Katrina left a bad taste in my mouth. As with any organization the biggest is not always the best. Because it is so heavy advertised and supported I sincerely hope that they will follow thru with what they have reported to Bill Weir.

However, my insight and or feelings should not stop or influence your giving. As the celebrities are singing above, "We are the world, so let's start giving." By all means support whichever charitable organization that you choose to do so. The intent of this hub was to provide tips for giving wisely to charity to assist Haitians and others that are in need to receive as much funding as possible by providing ways and means to recognize the con artists, schemers, and scammers that are bent on lining their pockets with your “well intended” donations.


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    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      7 years ago from Texas

      thanks kenneth for stopping by for a read and commenting. :)

    • kenneth avery profile image

      Kenneth Avery 

      7 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Money, this was GREAT! Voted Up and all across. Everyone who has donated or about to donate to charity, should read THIS hub. Very informative and thorough. You are an amazing talent, Money. Glad to have found you on hubs. Keep up the great work. Sincerely, Kenneth Avery, Hamilton, Alabama, a little Mayberry-like town in northwest Alabama.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Hello, epigramman, thanks for stopping by for a read and leaving such kind comments. Namaste' :)

    • epigramman profile image


      8 years ago

      ..what a lovely soul you are - and so pure in order to write this 'charitable' hub - so may God's love shine upon you - and those who enjoy your well-defined and informative/enlightening hubs ......

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      It is unfortunate, but being a little bit suspicious, when it comes to giving to charity is wise! There are so many scams out there attempting to take advantage of well meaning individuals who do not do their research before giving. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts Nell. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      9 years ago from England

      Hi, that is a great idea about working for the charity to suss out how legitimate they are. I see so many pop up on our TV screens and as you said, asking you to pay this way and that way, I am always a little bit suspicious, but i donated through oxfam in England for Haiti, so I think that they are probably, hopefully a trustworthy charity. cheers nell

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for stopping by Ann to comment. :)

    • Ann Lee profile image

      Ann Lee 

      9 years ago

      Great article! I just wrote an article on how to set up your own charitable foundation.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Normally I would allow so much personally advertisement. However, I am familiar with Meals on Wheels, I worked with a similar organization as a teenager. Thanks for stopping by.

      Note to other readers: Do not see this as my personal endorsement to this program. One must thoroughly research a non-profit organization prior to giving. :)

    • profile image

      Meals on Wheels 

      9 years ago

      Meals on Wheels have been in operation for 35 years which tells us that it is a well managed charity organisation and you can follow us on and

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Yeah, and it is unfortunate that even some of the legitimate charities sit on the funds once received rather than putting them to use immediately. It can be a really frustrating process. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. :)

    • 2besure profile image

      Pamela Lipscomb 

      9 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      You are so right Money have to do your homework before giving to a charity. There are so many fakes out there, especially during the time a national and world disasters.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Please note Car Donations per HP's instructions below "Comments are not for promoting your hubs or other sites." I'm allowing the above post this time because you are new, however, all others will be deleted.

    • profile image

      Car Donations 

      9 years ago

      Some great advice about the proper procedure to donate your car.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Thanks Dobson for stopping by and commenting. I think once people learn that the best way to "truly receive" is to open our hearts and give to the less fortunate, then the entire world will prosper. :)

    • Dobson profile image


      9 years ago from Virginia

      Thanks for taking the time to share you personal beliefs, perhaps it will encourage more people to give beyond what they are guilted into by their church.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Hi hubpageswriter, nice to meet you. Catchy name :) You are exactly right a little charity can go a long way when given wisely. Thanks for the read...

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      The tips for giving wisely to charity you have written here is very useful and it gives out a very good awareness. A little something goes a long way. Great hub. :)

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for your support Maita, If people will just take a few extra minutes before giving their money, it will definitely result in more funds going to those in need:)

    • prettydarkhorse profile image


      9 years ago from US

      good job and hub, use heart and mind always, and yes the Internet can be a good tool as well, verification of the organization is important as well, Maita

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for providing your insight Hypnodude! Broke or not in my opinion the RC really did not do what they promised with the post 9-11 and Katrina people. So hopefully, they will see this tragedy as an opportunity for redemption and get it right this time. Thanks for stopping by!:)

    • hypnodude profile image


      9 years ago from Italy

      Great hub Money, great hub. I agree with you, 20% is the maximum to spend for a charity, all the rest must go to helping people. And adding to your Red Cross example (btw they are almost broke due to expenses) if you could see black markets in Albania they are full of UNICEF helps for sale. Probably no one has ever told them.

      I just hope that, as it happens most of the times, all the money sent to Haiti will go to the population and not to rebuild the presidential palace. Or to armed gangs. We'll see. Rated up, very well done.

    • Money Glitch profile imageAUTHOR

      Money Glitch 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for the read Ethel! I'm glad to see that so many people throughout the world are working together to help this poor country. I too have contributed what I could and hope to give more.:)

    • ethel smith profile image

      Ethel Smith 

      9 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Good advice. I have given to DEC in the UK which has raised over 23 milliom pounds for Haiti. I hope to be able to give again in a week or so.


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