My elderly neighbor handed me the solicitation paperwork she received in her mailbox and asked me
Is this a legit veterans organization?
My neighbor wants to donate her money to a veterans organization and she gets many requests through the mail for her donations. But she is worried that this organization might be a scam and frankly, she should be concerned. These scams target senior citizens and the donation paperwork often looks very similar to legit nonprofit organizations.
Did I know if this nonprofit organization was telling the truth? No, but I used the website Charity Navigator to find out.
Charity Navigator is a nonprofit organization that aims to give donors information so that they can make informed giving decisions. It’s an independent charity evaluator and the best way to research thousands of charities easily.
“By guiding intelligent giving, we aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges,” according to Charity Navigator’s mission statement.
Charity Navigator has a comprehensive search tool and rating system. Charity Navigator also has interesting Top Ten Lists (10 Charities Worth Watching and 10 Charities in Deep Financial Trouble) that are worth browsing along with a specific Support Out Troops page.
The Support Out Troops page cautions donors “to look carefully before choosing one of these charities to support as not all operate with equal efficiency.”
“Donors can be confident that contributions made to the higher rated charities will be spent efficiently as these charities have low overhead and fundraising costs enabling them to use more of their resources in carrying out their mission.
“On the other hand, the low rated charities do not operate efficiently. Much of the money donors give to those organizations ends up in the hands of for-profit fundraisers, not the brave women and men of the United States’ military and their families,” said the Charity Navigator’s Support Out Troops page.
That’s the reason why I search Charity Navigator before making a donation through the Combined Federal Campaign.
I want my donation to go to help veterans, not toward a 6-figure salary for a nonprofit’s CEO. I always look very closely at the percentage reported for the organizations’ program expenses (percent of the charity’s total expenses spent on the programs and services it delivers) within the financial performance metrics provided by Charity Navigator.
My goal is to donate to a nonprofit that is 90 percent or higher in that category. That’s my personal benchmark. You can pick your own.
I also use Charity Navigator to take the confusion out of the Combined Federal Campaign. The Combined Federal Campaign, available to federal employees and service members, is the largest workplace giving campaign.
It’s a convenient way to donate money to your favorite charity. The CFC takes place once a year. It’s not required that service members donate money to a nonprofit organization, but the CFC gives everyone the option and opportunity to make a donation.
The CFC has thousands of charities in its system and sometimes I have difficulty deciding which to give my money to. The Charity Navigator takes the confusion out of the donation selection process and allows me to make an informed donation.