Do You Know Where Your Donations Are Going?

It's the season of giving, but do your research first, writes Nicholas Kristof
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 21, 2010 2:52 PM CST
Do You Know Where Your Donations Are Going?
In this Dec. 17, 2008 file photo, a bell ringer for the Salvation Army solicits donations on Fifth Avenue in New York.   (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

Nicholas Kristof thinks it’s great that many people “will dig into their pockets for good causes” this holiday season—he just wants to make sure you know which causes are actually good. It’s dangerous to assume that all charities share your values and are using your money wisely, he writes in the New York Times. People who call you or stop you on the street to ask for donations are often paid fundraisers “who will take much of what you give"—and even if they're not, sometimes the organizations themselves can't be trusted.

Oklahoma-based Feed the Children has been accused of spending only 21% of its cash budget to help the needy, while allegedly spending $1.2 million on a home for the founder’s daughter and lending $950,000 to a business headed by the founder’s son. Some Jewish and Islamic charities are accused of supporting extremism and violence against the other side. “Donations could accomplish far more if people thought through their philanthropy, did more research, and made fewer, bigger contributions instead of many small ones that are expensive to handle,” Kristof concludes. Click here to see the charities he deemed worthy last year.
(More charitable giving stories.)

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