Portland, OR. “Giving is Good. Smart Giving is Great!” That’s the message from Charity Navigator, the nation’s largest evaluator of charities.

Local charities like Meals on Wheels People has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator.

Local charities like Meals on Wheels People has received the highest rating from Charity Navigator.

Here’s a link to reviews of many Oregon nonprofits: https://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?Submit2=Search&bay=search.results&state=or

Here are some guidelines:

With the year-end giving season approaching, many donors already know the basics of informed giving: set a giving budget, check-out charities before you donate and give before the first of the year for your contribution to qualify as a deduction on your 2016 taxes. But how do you know which charities really are best?

To help donors take a closer look at the charities seeking their support this holiday season, Charity Navigator suggests you ask yourself these five questions:

  1. Does the charity match your passion?  As you consider which charities to support this year, remember that there are roughly one million of them. That means you don’t have to settle for an organization that isn’t a perfect match for your beliefs and goals. No matter what cause you want to support — whether it is providing humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees, helping our returning troops find work, or finding a cure for a particular disease — there’s a charity out there that matches your intentions. Take the time to find it and confirm (not just assume) it offers the programs and services that match your charitable interests.

  2. Did the charity get lost in the election funding crunch? Billions of dollars were spent in the 2016 election. Unfortunately, some of this money was diverted from charities that were expecting it when their donors decided to invest in the campaigns instead. Some charities — those that are able to capitalize on the issues — actually benefit from contentious campaigns. But others suffer, including those with missions that are not forefront in the political issue discussions. Find out if your charity took a hit this year, and if so, see if you can help.

  3. Is the charity fiscally responsible, transparent and effective?  Before you give to any charity this holiday season:

  • Examine the charity’s finances. Financially healthy organizations – those that are both financially efficient and sustainable – have greater flexibility and freedom to pursue their charitable mission.

  • Ensure the charity is accountable and transparent. Charities that are an open book and follow good governance practices are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities.

  • Look for signs of effectiveness. The charity’s ability to bring about long-lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and for your donation, so make sure you find evidence of its impact.

  1. Does the charity have strong leadership?  Good charities usually have formidable leaders, more so even than in the private sector. Look for a charity with a dynamic, proven leader. Organizations with high turnover usually struggle, and the inability to retain quality leadership is often a red flag for instability.

  2. Do you trust it enough to give without strings attached? Donors sometimes like to designate their contributions for specific projects and purposes. While this may be ideal for disaster giving (such as with Hurricane Matthew), don’t be the roadblock in your favorite charity’s quest to do good work. Take the time to research your charity so that you can trust them.  Then give an unrestricted gift so the charity has the flexibility to respond to changing demands for its services and to spend the money where it is most needed to continue their day-to-day good work.

“More and more, people look for ways to incorporate charitable giving into their year-end celebrations” said Charity Navigator’s President & CEO, Michael Thatcher.  “At the same time, they are often overwhelmed by the number of charities seeking their support. Instead of giving in reaction to receiving an appeal, we encourage donors to be more proactive in their giving and do their due diligence. In our experience, the most satisfied donors are those that take the time to identify well-run charities that match their philanthropic interests.”

Charity Navigator is best known for its ratings, accessible at no cost at www.charitynavigator.org, of the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of 8,000 of America’s best-known charities, as well as information on over 1.5 million nonprofits. Charity Navigator’s website also offers many different tools to help donors make informed choices about where their contributions will be used most effectively this holiday season. Visit the guide at: www.charitynavigator.org/holiday.

About Charity Navigator
Charity Navigator is the largest expert charity evaluator in America and its website attracts more visitors than all other charity rating groups combined. The organization helps guide intelligent giving by evaluating the Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency of over 8,000 charities. Charity Navigator accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates, ensuring unbiased evaluations, nor does it charge the public for this trusted data. As a result, Charity Navigator, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization itself, depends on support from individuals, corporations and foundations that believe it provides a much-needed service to America’s charitable givers. Charity Navigator, can be reached directly by telephone at (201) 818-1288, or by mail at 139 Harristown Road, Suite 101, Glen Rock, N.J., 07452.