If everything was as it should be, you could donate to a cause that you are passionate about without wondering if the people or cause you intended to help actually received your donation.

Unfortunately, there have been more than one instance where people over charitable funds became corrupt and decided to place a portion, or all, of the funds they received into their own bank accounts instead of the people, animals, or organization in need.

Fortunately, there are still good charities out there that want to make the world a better place. You can have peace of mind in knowing that your money will help out others in need of assistance if you choose to donate to a reliable source.

How to Research a Good Charity Before Donating

The Internet and social media can be both beneficial and damaging to non-profit organizations and charitable causes.

On one hand, more people are able to donate to their favorite cause than ever before due to online donations. On the other hand, more people are being scammed out of their money than ever because they think they are donating to worthy cause when in reality they are sending money to a hacker or con artist.

Here are a few things that you should do before you donate to any cause or charity for the first time. Doing so can reassure you that you are donating to a good charity and that your funds will be put to good use.

Use These Three Websites to Confirm if a Charity is Legit

The easiest way to check if a charity is the real thing, and if they are a reliable good charity to donate to, is by researching these three websites.

Charity Watch

Charity Watch has been around for 25 years and has helped donors make sure they are giving to a worthy cause.

Originally founded as the American Institute of Philanthropy, Charity Watch describes themselves as America’s independent, assertive charity watchdog. They make a difference by sharing charity reports with the public and let donors know how efficient a charity is when it comes to how they use donations.

The website also exposes non-profit abuse and provides useful information for safe donating. You can even donate to a good charity directly from their website.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance ensures that donors are well-informed when they are giving to their favorite causes or charities. Similar to the BBB (Better Business Bureau), the BBB Wise Giving Alliance works to promote high standards of conduct among charities and other non-profit organizations that solicit funds from the public.

This website shares reports about national charities and compares those notes with their own Standards for Charity Accountability. The results are published in the Wise Giving Guide Magazine three times annually.

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator was founded in 2001 and since then has become the largest evaluator of charities and non-profit organizations in the nation.

It is their mission to help donors to always have the correct information about the charity or cause they are funding. The website has a team of professional analysts who go over thousands of non-profit financial records to determine how the funds are spent.

Charity Navigator looks at two main areas of every charity they evaluate, their financial health and their accountability and transparency.

Their ratings show the public how likely it is that a charity will use their funds immediately, or if it will be saved for use with services over time. These rating are provided so that donors and social investors can make an intelligent decision while also doing a good deed.

Useful Tips to Remember When Researching Charities

  • Donating when a telemarketer calls can be risky because you can never be sure about how the funds are dispersed. Years ago, it was very common for fundraisers to pay a percentage to a third-party. These days fundraisers take a more straight-forward approach by giving the call center a payment per call or per hour. Either way, it’s likely that some of your donation will go to the call center instead of the cause.
  • Check to see if the charity you have in mind has even been banned in any other state. If so, chances are it is a fraudulent charity and should be avoided.
  • Make sure your personal information isn’t being sold before you give.
  • Don’t absentmindedly choose a charity because you like the name or what they claim to do. Showing images of sick or starving children can be devastating to many of us and cause even those without much money themselves to open up their wallets. Scammers are aware of that fact and will prey on your emotions to get the all the money they can from you. Make sure all claims are backed up and facts before you give.

The Top 7 Good Charities to Donate to and Feel Good About

The following charitable organizations are some of the largest and most respected in the world.

These are complex organizations that maintain budgets of more than $100 million. Along with their great financial management, these good charities have received top ratings from the donation watchdog sites mentioned above.

Donors can be confident that when they give to these organizations, they are donating to a worthy cause. Statistics and more information about each charity listed here can be obtained by visiting Charity Navigator.

Direct Relief

Direct Relief Goleta

Direct Relief is an organization that helps people in more than 80 countries who are affected by disaster situations or poverty. They offer relief to people in need with no regard to religion, ethics, politics, identities, or the ability to pay.

The organization was founded in 1948 by refugee war immigrants who came to the U.S. They have a 4-Star rating and 100 percent score on Charity Navigator.

The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International

Rotary Foundation

The Rotary Foundation is funded solely by voluntary contributions from friends and members of the Rotary. Their mission is to advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace.

They have clubs all throughout the world that provide scholarships to the underprivileged, offer professional training opportunities to those who wouldn’t have that option otherwise, and have worked alongside UNICEF as well as the CDC to eradicate polio throughout the world.

The Rotary Foundation also has a 4-Star, 100 percent rating on Charity Navigator.

Matthew 25 Ministries

Matthew 25 Ministries

Matthew 25 Ministries (M25M) is a humanitarian aid and disaster relief organization that helps those living in poverty both locally and internationally.

They rescue and reuse various products from major corporations, hospitals, manufacturers and other resources to help those in need. The organization was founded in 1991 and since that time has shipped over 170,000,000 lbs. of aid across the United States and to over 60 countries throughout the world.

This charity also received a 4-star, 100 percent rating from Charity Navigator.

Samaritan’s Purse

Samaritan’s Purse

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational Christian organization that offers both physical and spiritual assistance to people all over the world.

The charity has been around since 1970 and has helped needy people who were victims of war, disasters, poverty, disease and famine. Their emergency relief reaches out to people worldwide and their Christmas toy drive Operation Christmas Child delivers over 10 million shoeboxes filled with gifts to the less fortunate children in more than 100 countries.

It is their mission to provide all people with hope for a better tomorrow while spreading the message of Christian faith to every person they help.

Samaritan’s Purse has a 4-star rating and a score of 98.23 percent on Charity Navigator.

The Conservation Fund

conservation fund

The Conservation Fund creates solutions that represent eco-friendly values. They are working to re-define conservation and show how it plays an essential role in our future.

They place 97% of all their resources toward their mission, and their low fundraising costs in the field outperform other charities in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. Since the Conservation Fund started in 1985, they have helped to protect more than 7.5 million acres of land.

The charity currently has a 4-star rating and an overall score of 98.23 on Charity Navigator.

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation or CFF was first established in 1955 and was started to ensure the development of the financial means to cure and control cystic fibrosis, as well as improve the quality of life of those living with the disease. CFF is the top foundation in the United States dedicated to this cause and they have 80 chapters and branch offices all throughout the nation.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation currently has a 4-Star rating and an overall score of 98.23 on Charity Navigator.

Doctors Without Borders, USA

Doctors Without Borders USA

Doctors Without Borders, USA was founded in New York City in 1990. The charity raises funds, helps to create awareness, recruits field staff, and advocates their cause with the US Nations as well as the US Government.

This division of the international medical humanitarian organization provides medical aid to more than 60 countries to people who live in violent areas or those who have suffered neglect and violence in war zones. They have professional physicians, nurses, and other medical staff who volunteer their time and skills to help sick or injured individuals in some of the most desolate areas of the world.

Doctors Without Borders, US has received a 4-Star rating and a total score of 97.23 from Charity Navigator.

Did Your Favorite Cause Make the List of Good Charities?

Or were you surprised to see that many of the charities which are household names are no where on the list? Donating your money to a cause that only turns out to be a scam can be frustrating, but fortunately there are ways to prevent this from happening.

By doing plenty of research before you give, you can be sure that your money will be put to good use and provide help to a cause that you are passionate about.