December 11, 2009, Newsletter Issue #155: Authentic Assets: Trusting the Best of Charity Evaluation

Tip of the Week

Trusting your instincts about giving to charity is the first step in becoming a benefactor. Trusting credible and authentic information is the next. Guide Star provides a great deal of information including 990s, compensation, detailed descriptions of organization, leadership and board members. Guide Star lets you look back at tax returns for approximately five years. Guide Star has advanced membership levels beginning with a basic (and free) service to a fee based membership that provides you with additional information on specific organizations. Guide Star is truly comprehensive and includes any 501 (c) 3 that files a return. Enter the virtual world of more than 900,000 charity ratings by visiting:

Charity Navigator ( is a great site! Charity Navigator reviews charities according to efficiency, percentage of fund raising, program, and administrative costs in relation to total budgets, dollars raised and income received. Your “Guide to Intelligent Giving” has a star system with zero raising a red flag to all stars for those who efficiently operate from the financial perspective. Give a little room for some of the organizations that might rank low one year and then pull up the next. Based on how much funding is raised from year to year stars can vanish because fund raising costs might be the same, while an organization might simply have had a bad year for raising money.

Charity Watch is a charity guide program of the American Institute of Philanthropy. Charity Watch grades charities based on the amount of money expended on programs and the cost of fund raising. This giving report card provides contact information, financial performance and eligibility to receive gifts. Take a look at and you will not only be able to assess how individual charities are performing, but also, you’ll have the benefit of comparing organizations who are focused on the same causes! BBB Wise Giving Alliance is the result of a merger between the National Charities Information Bureau and the BBB (Better Business Bureaus) Philanthropic Advisory Service, this organization provides information on charities, their mission, programs and services, management and fund raising methods, tax status, financial status, administrative and fund raising expenses as they relate to program expenditures and total assets. When you delve into you will also learn about the BBB’s Charity Seal of Approval.

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