Marjorie Korn, SELF magazine
You're the best for donating, but is your charity of choice a dud? Our Q&A tells you.
What should I look for before I write a check?
Luckily, the watchdogs (the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator and Charity Watch) have done lots of the work for you so check their sites first. Then consider playing detective-many nonprofits annually file an IRS form 990 or 990 EZ, providing financial and leadership details. Look to see what impact the charity is having and whether it really has enough funds to accomplish its mission, says Liz Livingston Howard, a nonprofit at Northwestern University. A charity should typically spend, at minimum, 75 percent of its money on programs rather than on fund-raiding and overhead. If you can't find a form, ask the org about its financials directly.
A friend invited me to a gala-for $500. (Yikes!) Where does the money go?
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