DONOR TIPS: The importance of charity ratings

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The end of the year is the busiest time for charitable giving.  There are more than 1.5 million nonprofits registered in the United States vying for donor dollars during the holiday season, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics.

There are some important questions to consider when choosing a charity to donate to: Are they being good stewards of your money? Do they have your best interest at heart?

Donors must become educated supporters. So, we are offering some helpful tips on how to know your donation is going to the heart of an organization’s mission.

The best way to become an educated donor is to visit the top three charity watchdog websites: Charity NavigatorCharityWatch, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. While each of these sites bases their ratings on different criteria, they all review and measure nonprofits based on accountability and transparency, donor privacy, and the efficiency of how donations are spent. The more knowledge and insight you have, the more confident you will be in your decision.

Homes for Our Troops has received a four star rating from Charity Navigator and an A rating from Charity Watch for five consecutive years.

Here are some other helpful tips to get a better understanding of the charity:

Review the 990 – This document explains how much is spent on salaries and fundraising versus programs.

Visit the charity’s website – Learn more about the senior level executives and the Board.

Verify – Determine the organization’s nonprofit status.

Evaluate – Assess the charities impact and the impact your donation is making.

Beware of charities not rated or listed – Any charity that has full transparency will cooperate with these watchdogs organizations.

Remember, no matter the size of your gift; always find a charity that makes the greatest impact. Learn as much as you can about the organization and choose wisely.

Written by HFOT’s Director of Development Beth Lyons, she may be reached at blyons@hfotusa.org

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