Whether you are donating your time or your resources, giving to a charity is a very real form of investment. Just as you would if you were investing in a company, you ought to perform an extensive investigation examining all aspects of the prospective organization.

While the vast majority of charitable organizations have good intentions, there are certainly a number of bad-intentioned organizations who are looking to take your money and run. These hoodwinking conmen seem to spring up whenever there is a natural disaster that catches the attention of the world media as was the case with Nepalese earthquake in May 2015. If you are donating to help the victims affected by a disaster abroad, be certain to do research to avoid becoming a victim yourself.

Researching CharitiesIn 2014, individuals, businesses, and foundations donated a combined $360 billion. While this staggering sum may seem overwhelming, take solace in the fact that there is a myriad information available, due to non-profit qualifications, to prospective givers to determine the trustworthiness of these organizations. Here are a few tips to ensure your charitable donations are getting the most bang for the buck.

Firstly, you need to learn what constitutes a non-profit organization. The National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) has put together an informative table that highlights the difference between public charities, private foundations, and other exempt organizations.

Don’t take an organization’s name at face value. They are often misnomers as is the case with the Bill, Hillary, and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. This foundation, like man organizations that use foundation in their name, are, in fact, public charities and are, thus, subject to an entirely different set of rules.

As I mentioned before, charities are a gigantic business. Thus, a number of guides for giving that provides a slew of data on a large array of organizations have emerged in recent years. Guidestar and the National Center for Charitable Statistics serve as great database resources while BBB Wise Giving Alliance, CharityNavigator, CharityWatch, and Philanthropedia all do a great job of analyzing the efficacy of these organizations.

Donating to charity is a serious commitment. Take the time to do the research necessary to determine if a prospective organizations trustworthy and effective at making a difference in a cause that you care about.

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