It is important to know where your charitable donations will go before deciding which charities to support. Any legitimate charity will not mind disclosing this information to potential donors. Some charities have much greater overhead than do others, so it is important to know if the money you are donating will actually go for the cause for which you intend.
Major charities often spend a lot of money on fundraising, which limits how your donations are actually spent. The New York Times profiled one major charity that spends just 21 cents on the dollar for its cause, while the majority of its donations are used for fundraising. Therefore, before you choose which charity to donate to, do some research to make sure you know where your money is going.
Many worthwhile charities have volunteers that do the bulk of their administrative work and also the bulk of their fundraising. This allows the money that the charity collects to be used for the cause. This is an important element to research when deciding which charity to contribute to as most people want to know that their money is actually going to help someone.
Any time you are solicited for donations, ask to see literature about how the money the charity collects is used. In addition, take the time to do your own research; never give money on the spot. Avoid Internet appeals for charitable donations, as many of these are nothing but scams. If you do see a charity profiled online that interests you, do your own independent research before contributing any money.
Avoid contributing to charities based on the name of the charity. Many charitable organizations have purposely chosen names that sound like solid, legitimate charities so that donors will think they are giving to the major charity that has been in existence for years. It is better to refuse all solicitations for donations until you can do your own research and decide which organization will receive your charitable donations.