Raleigh, N.C. — What hits your heart — animals, children charities, a campaign to end a disease?
Kindness adds up. Last year, Americans gave more than $292 billion to charity.
Just make sure it goes to the right place.
Your money does the most good when people who need the most help get the biggest bang from every donated dollar.
Twenty percent of charitable giving happens on Giving Tuesday, which is Dec. 3 this year.
Before you donate, be sure to research the charity.
“Some might spend too much money on administrative costs or fundraising expenses, while a few could be outright scams,” said Penny Wang, Consumer Reports’ money editor.
Good charities are transparent. They make it easy to learn about everything from their mission to financial reports.
Consumer Reports recommends looking for an IRS Form 990; most larger charities are required to file it. It has a lot of information about how a charity spends its money.
Accreditation by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance is another good sign. It means charities spend at least 65% of their total expenses on charitable missions and no more than 35% on fundraising.
Be wary of unsolicited appeals, especially on social media.
“If you’re contacted by a professional fundraiser, you might consider giving directly to a charity instead,” Wang said. “The fundraiser might keep 75 to 90% of the money.” That’s a lot of money not going to your designated cause!
Consumer Reports says to watch out for “sound-alike” charities, which might try to work off the reputation of a recognized charity without meeting the Wise Giving Alliance standards.