Since I highlighted some fun facts and an overview of giving in the United States yesterday, today it seems appropriate to take a look at giving on an individual level. There are many worthy causes out there, from educational charities (and universities, which also happen to be non-profit), to health care charities. There is a charity out there that calls to you, too. How do you separate the wheat from the chaff, and donate to the charities where your dollar will go furthest?
The big dog in the charity ratings game is Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator breaks down charities and non-profits by revenue, and divides it into a pie chart showing administrative and fund-raising costs contrasted with expenses on the program itself. In this way, it is possible to directly map your giving dollar to where it will be spent.
For an example, let’s check out my alma mater, the University of Southern California. USC happens to have a high ranking on the site, garnering a number 5 rating on the “10 Charities with The Most Consecutive 4-Star Ratings” page. Fight On!
You can see from the breakdown that your dollar will send a full 89.5 cents into the program. 9.1 cents will go into administration, and 1.2 cents will go into fund-raising. Breaking it down further, only .19 cents will go into Pete Carrol’s paycheck, which may be a good or a bad thing, depending on your opinion.
How About the Charities?
Breaking down your school’s finances isn’t the only thing you can do on the site- you can also look at some of the traditional powerhouse charities. Check out the “10 Super-Sized Charities” list, for example, to see some of the big boys of giving.
Number on on that list? The American Red Cross, with over $s billion in annual revenue. The Red Cross gets a solid 54.62 rating, and over 90% of your donation goes to program expenses. Still, there are charities you’ve heard of which do an even better job.
There are many worthy smaller charities and non-profits, but of the charities you hear about most often it’s nice to know which ones let your dollar go the furthest. In this case, the National Christian Foundation gets a 69.40 rating, and spends a whopping 94% of your dollar on its causes. Only .3% of every dollar goes to fund-raising initiatives.
The site is a breeze to navigate, and free registration even lets you look at historical data. You can use the site to search for charities which aren’t as well run (which have higher administration costs or fund-raising costs, for example), or any cause which you are interested in. Interested in public broadcasting? Yeah, there’s a category for that. Community and Housing Development? Yep, that’s in there too.
What sites do you use to vet your charities? Who do you donate to? Let me know.