From Toolkit for Giving
For some people, one of the most difficult aspects of charitable giving is determining where to give their money. There are many worthwhile organizations in the community doing important work.
As a starting point in deciding where to make your charitable gifts, you’ll want to make sure that the recipients of your gifts have tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service, so that you may claim the appropriate federal tax deduction for your gift.
A common way in which people choose a charity is through their personal volunteer work with an organization, or through the recommendations of friends. There are also a growing number of resources available to help you find a charity that provides programs and services reflecting values similar to your own, research nonprofits working in areas of particular interest to you, and learn more about a particular nonprofit before making a giving decision. Here are some resources that can help:
BBB Wise Giving Alliance: The Alliance helps donors make informed giving decisions and advances high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. The Alliance was formed in 2001 through the merger of the National Charities Information Bureau with the Council of Better Business Bureaus’ Foundation (which housed the Philanthropic Advisory Service.) The Alliance produces in-depth evaluative reports on national charities based on comprehensive Standards for Charity Accountability and publishes a quarterly magazine, the Wise Giving Guide. National charities that meet the standards can apply to participate in the Alliance’s National Charity Seal program.
Charities Review Council: The Charities Review Council is an independent resource for people who make contributions to support charities The Council is dedicated to empowering donors in making informed and thoughtful giving decisions, so that they can be more effective in helping charities advance their important community work. The Council provides tools and resources to the giving public to make informed giving choices, reviews charities through its Accountability Wizard to help the public determine the trustworthiness of a charity before giving, and serves as educator to charities by providing tools and resources to organizations to meet and maintain the Council’s Accountability Standards.
Charity Navigator: An independent charity evaluator, Charity Navigator works to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace by evaluating the financial health of over 5,500 of America's largest charities. Its team of professional analysts has examined tens of thousands of non-profit financial documents and has used this knowledge to develop an unbiased, objective, numbers-based rating system to assess the financial health of over 5,000 of America's best-known charities.
Charity Watch: The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) is a nationally prominent charity watchdog service whose purpose is to help donors make informed giving decisions.
GiveWell: GiveWell is an independent, nonprofit charity evaluator. It finds outstanding charities and publishes the full details of its analysis to help donors decide where to give. Unlike existing evaluators, which focus solely on financials, assessing administrative or fundraising costs, GiveWell.org focuses on how well programs actually work – i.e., their effects on the people they serve.
GreatNonprofits: GreatNonprofits provides reviews and ratings of nonprofit organizations throughout the U.S., from the smallest grassroots groups operating on the local level, to the large regional, national and international organizations. The reviews and ratings are posted by people who have been touched by a nonprofit and want to share their story about it--stories of people who have volunteered or donated to nonprofits, as well as stories of people who have benefited from their services.
GuideStar: GuideStar gathers and publicizes information about nonprofit organizations by encouraging nonprofits to share information about their organizations openly and completely. Any nonprofit in our database can update its report with information about its mission, programs, leaders, goals, accomplishments, and needs. This information is combined with data from several other sources into a searchable data base. People who are familiar with a nonprofit may submit reviews of that organization.
InsideGOOD: InsideGOOD is an online database of nonprofit ratings - where employees, interns, volunteers and donors can view and submit ratings about their experience(s) working with, or donating to, nonprofit organizations.
Minnesota Attorney General: Organizations that solicit funds in the state of Minnesota are required to register with the Charities Division of the Minnesota Attorney General's Office. Registration data is taken directly from each organization's financial statement and information return. We created this database to allow the public quick access to this useful information. Registration does not constitute approval by the Attorney General or by the State of Minnesota. The site also offers Tips on Charitable Giving and a Guide to Charity Laws.
Minnesota Council of Nonprofits: MCN works to inform, promote, connect and strengthen individual nonprofits and the nonprofit sector. MCN is the statewide association of more than 2,000 member nonprofit organizations. Through its Web site, resource publications, workshops and events, cost-saving programs and advocacy, MCN continually works to inform, promote, connect and strengthen individual nonprofits and the nonprofit sector.
Minnesota Grantmakers Online: MCF maintains the most comprehensive searchable database of Minnesota foundations, corporate grantmakers and grants. It's called Minnesota Grantmakers Online (MGO). Learn more about its features and take an online tour.
Philanthropedia: Philanthropedia’s mission is to improve nonprofit effectiveness by directing money to and facilitating discussion about expert recommended high-impact nonprofits by providing a charity rating system. MyPhilanthropedia surveys hundreds of experts to create a list of nonprofits that are having the highest-impact in the causes donors care about.
Wall Watchers' Ministry Watch: MinistryWatch.com is an online database that profiles and reports on nonprofit ministries. The objective is to limit consequences of scams and prevention of fraudulent activity, promote better allocations of giving, encourage intelligent questions of organizational structure, financial health, and advance the idea of organizational transparency and best practices.