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Legitimate Donation Organizations
updated: Jan 08, 2014, 2:11 PM

By Edhat Subscriber

Since many of us receive letters asking for donations to various organizations, is there any way of knowing which ones are legitimate?

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 483488P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 02:24 PM

My sister uses and has faith in this: http://www.charitynavigator.org/


 COMMENT 483490P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 02:28 PM

Yes, Charity Navigator is good site for information. Note that the Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara receives high ratings, as well as a few others here. For last decade have been impressed by the Scholarship Foundation which helps kids from all over SB County. (North SB County have few philanthropists/donors to help the deserving kids up there.)


 COMMENT 483491 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 02:30 PM

Whenever they call, I ask them exactly how much of the $$$ collected actually goes to the charity for which it's intended. It's usually only 10-20%. The rest goes to "administrative costs." (Yeah, right). By law, the phone solicitors must tell you this, and I've found them to be surprisingly honest. I then tell them I'd rather contribute directly to the charity of my choice.


 COMMENT 483493 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 02:39 PM

Another good one is guidestar!


 COMMENT 483495 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 02:49 PM

Charity Navigator. Or just give to Direct Relief, you can't go wrong with them -- 100% local and 100% of donations goes to program services.


 COMMENT 483500 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 03:17 PM



 COMMENT 483502 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 03:20 PM

If out had a cross on it you can be sure that it is a scam.


 COMMENT 483509 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 03:35 PM

Charity Navigator is good but keep in mind that it only rates nonprofits with budgets of $500000 or more. There are so many small local groups with more modest budgets and I prefer to donate to those smaller groups because they are more accountable, efficient, and effective. Guidestar lets you access the annual IRS forms that all nonprofits are required to file so you can do your homework there, read up on the group's financials, and read reviews posted by others. Thank you for being thoughtful in your charitable giving!


 COMMENT 483511 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 03:40 PM

Direct Relief is legit and local. Last time I checked, 0% of your donation went to overhead thanks to a large bequest that covers their administrative costs.


 COMMENT 483527 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 04:24 PM

You can look at a 501(c)3 charity's tax return, a Form 990, at Guidestar or on the California Attorney General's Registry of Charitable Trusts website. When you look at the return you can see where they are spending their funds and determine whether the funds are going to administration or the organization's stated charitable purpose.
To use either website, it's very helpful to have their name correctly spelled, or their Federal Taxpayer ID#. Guidestar requires your registration to see the organization's tax return. The CA/AG's website does not.

Guidestar's web address is @: http://www.guidestar.org/

CA/AG Registry of Charitable Trusts web address is @: http://rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/Search.aspx?facility=Y


 COMMENT 483542P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 05:00 PM

This thread is a great source of info.

My wife & I always ask how much of our anticipated donation will go to the actual cause & it's surprising how much doesn't! Boo


 FLICKA agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 05:32 PM

Give to the Food Bank of Santa Barbara; every dollar buys $17.00 worth of food.


 COMMENT 483572 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 05:41 PM

Yvon Chouinard makes a compelling argument in his fine book, "Let My People Go Surfing", that donating to small local non-profits rather than large soulless NGO's is a much more effective use of your funds. This is one place where 'think local' works!


 COMMENT 483630P agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 07:34 PM

Some of the worst: the Red Cross, Unicef, etc.

The more they advertise, especially right after a disaster, the more the top execs pull in per year.

Non profits don't necessarily mean they provide a "free" service to the community. On the contrary in many cases.

Do your homework! It's YOUR money.


 COMMENT 483700 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-08 10:46 PM

Direct Relief International - which happens to be based here in SB - receives stellar results as noted above. We contribute a small amount on a regular basis, because we figure they then know they'll get it from us regularly. We signed up and it goes to our credit card monthly. They email a thanks each month. They do the best work possible - internationally, but are also prepared for local emergencies. I just don't see how it gets better than them for your donations. And though I feel I 'should' be more involved with this wonderfully worthwhile organization, I am not connected with them in any way except via our small but regular monthly donations. It does feel so good to know it goes regularly, without my needing to make decisions periodically about it. I am very happy with this donation.


 COMMENT 483750 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 08:43 AM

Give blood. A legitimate need. Being asked for money around every corner in Santa Barbara is unnerving. The TV ads are non-stop, junk mail is insane. If everyone took care of themselves first then reached out to their family, then their circle of friends then their neighborhood then the city and so on, we'd all be taken care of in times of need.


 COMMENT 483772 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 09:02 AM

What does legit mean?

If that's defined as 501-c tax exempt status then your focus is regarding whether they are within tax law. I guess that's a semi-useful measurement.

Did you know the guys who run Bowl games for college sports all claim to be not for profit 501-c 3? Yeah. The set up fake "charities" that they give money to "in the future" that never reap the benefits. All the while they roll in the dough paying themselves HUGE dividends, etc.

Wanna be legit?

Give. Be. Help. Humble. Find what you care about most (top 3) and drill into it hard. No need to spread the wealth to the vast array of competing charities that create inefficiencies among each other doing the same things.


 COMMENT 483814 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 10:37 AM

You can't go wrong with Direct Relief, Salvation Army or St.Jude's Children's Hospital.


 COMMENT 483816 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 10:50 AM

St. Jude's. No way for this family.


 COMMENT 483980 agree helpful negative off topic

2014-01-09 04:26 PM

The organizations that pay astronomical salaries to their executives are March of Dimes, Red Cross, United Way, Goodwill and Unicef. Low salraies or none go to Salvation Army Disabled Veterans. American Legion, Make a Wish, Lions Club, and St. Jude


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