Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Charity Navigator

I had to send a stern note to a particular environmental company who sold my info after I specifically said not to do so. But this didn’t help me with the subsequent plethora of pleas for money that have shown up in my mailbox on a daily basis. Sure, I have some expendable income to spread around to causes in which I believe, but I definitely don’t have enough to reward every single non-profit that sent me return address labels this year! (Can anyone in their lifetime send enough letters or pay enough bills to use up even one sheet of address labels from even one charity? Even holiday cards barely made a dent.)

Then my dad showed me his latest find: CharityNavigator.org. This website is invaluable for those, like me, wanting to find out all the info they can on these people asking for money, but not having the time to do the research on each company (I did check some individual websites at first, but became exhausted, and of course they’re all biased in favor of themselves; you’re not going to get a website saying “wow, we really don’t do as much as we ought to, and we used your donation to order pizza for our relatives”).

Charity Navigator is completely easy to use. The website evaluates the companies on efficiency and responsibility. You can scope out who is in charge and what their salaries are. There is plenty to the website which I won’t detail here, but you can spend a lot of time checking out all the aspects. Do check out the tab for user comments; these are helpful in getting varying opinions and viewpoints, and more information (but of course, remember that these are opinions, and the facts should be verified elsewhere). For example, PETA’s comments discussed the company’s euthanasia policies, and some of the comments were heated. It definitely provided more grist for my decision mill.

Finally, if you’ve decided the company you’re researching passes muster, you can donate directly through Charity Navigator, and here’s the really cool part – you can withhold your information so they quit sending you all those dang address labels. Hallelujah!

by AA @ Main

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