Helpful tips

R Buchanan

The phone rings. A polite man wants to discuss a charity that needs your help (money).

The doorbell rings. At the door is a nicely dressed woman who hands you a brochure and starts talking about a charity.

You receive a well produced document in the mail promoting a charity that really helps people.

What do you do? What do you really know about these charities? Do you really want to donate to any of them?

I tell them, “I will get back to you.” And hang up the phone or close the door.

Then I fire up the computer and go to (charity evaluator). For the record, Charity Navigator also accepts donations but you do not have to feel any obligation.

When you get to the site there is a lot of information. Spend some time. Pick three or four charities (just to compare things only). CN actually audits the charities, shows you the dollar amount for contributions and total revenue. Then they show the dollar amount for administration, program costs and total expenses. CN also rates the charity in several categories on a scale of 1-100.

If a charity takes in $100 and spends $95 on administration and fundraising, you might want to take a pass. It’s your money. Make sure they handle it properly.

My grandmother used to say, “He was such a nice young man.” And I knew she had just written a check to a stranger. There are lots of charities to give to but please give to a legitimate one.