Donating To Charities – Do Your Research

donate to charitiesSince I am out on a golf trip today and this weekend, I decided to put up something about a topic that I have thought about quite a bit recently.  Donating to charities.  My wife and I have donated to many of the national charities for many years.  We donate for breast cancer, diabetes, MS, pancreatic cancer, and quite a few others things.  We feel that since we are lucky in life, we can redistribute our wealth to others that are in need.  Though I don’t help out everyone, I try to give back when I can.

The past few days, I have been wondering about where our donations go.  I mean, these charities have a lot of expenses, especially when they put on events all throughout the year.  I just wonder how much money they are actually using for the “cause”.  Well, apparently there were others thinking the same thing.

I came across an article (more like investigative report) from the Tampa Bay Times.  They have been investigating where the money goes with the charities in the United Stats.  There are so many charities that it can be overwhelming.  The Tampa Bay times created a report called “America’s Worst Charities“.  This was an article that I was looking for.

America's Worst Charities

This was a report that not only made me sad, but also pissed me off.  These charities are taking people’s money and then not giving back to the cause.  Some of the top people in these charities are making a lot of money based on the contributions from the general public.  I don’t know about you, but this is just upsetting.  Why would you start a charity and then not provide resources to the cause you are fighting for?  I can probably answer this question, but I don’t want to.

So, hopefully you will head over and check to see if you are donating to any of these charities.  After you are done, let me know what you think.  Are you a little disgusted by this report and what is going on inside these charities?

My quick work of advise is to make sure you research the charity that you are donating to.  We all are pretty tight with our cash, so we want to give to good causes.  You should make sure your hard earned money is going to be used for a true cause.

Image courtesy of

Automate Your Savings for Free

Do I sound a little crazy here? Maybe. There is a free app out there called Digit, which enables you to easily automate your savings by analyzing your purchases and income. It saves where you think you can't and does it all for you, for free! I save over $400 a month by doing nothing! Check out my Digit review here.
Grayson Bell

Grayson Bell

I'm a business owner, blogger, father, and husband. I used credit cards too much and found myself in over $75,000 in debt ($50,000 in just credit cards). I paid it off, started this blog, and my financial life has changed. I now talk about fighting debt and growing wealth here. I run a WordPress maintenance and support company, along with another blog. It is Empowered Shopper, which helps people get information about products they want to buy. You can also check out Eyes on the Dollar, which is a great blog that I co-own.


  1. June 14, 2013 at 7:21 am — Reply

    Researching a charity before donating should always be a priority. My wife and I donate to a number of charities (most on auto-pay from my paycheck or auto-deduct from our bank account) and really looked into them before getting on board with donating.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:37 pm — Reply

      You are correct DC. I am glad to see that you donate regularly and that you have fully vetted them.

  2. June 14, 2013 at 7:55 am — Reply

    I was saddened to hear about this, but not very surprised. I worked for a non for profit when I graduated college and donations were our life-blood. If we would’ve been shady, then the money could’ve dried up and that is not to mention the moral/ethical issues. Sadly, this is why we must research a charity before we give and find out what we can. Have a great weekend off Grayson!

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:38 pm — Reply

      I was also saddened John. It was surprised that these charities almost got $1 billion in donations and only pushed out around $46 million. That is unacceptable.

  3. June 14, 2013 at 8:25 am — Reply

    Definitely research! W and I donated to a certain local charity for 5 years. And then one day there was a new story about how the President made a salary of $1,000,000 from the charity (along with many other not-so-fun facts) and that very same day we stopped our automatic payments.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:39 pm — Reply

      Sorry to hear that you found out the hard way about your charity. There is no reason why a charity president should make that much money. Just seems to be about greed.

  4. June 14, 2013 at 8:27 am — Reply

    Yes, I agree – research is crucial! There are more than a few charities out there that largely exist only to make a buck. Terrible, isn’t it???

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm — Reply

      It is horrible and there really needs to be more oversight into the charity industry. These companies are getting free money from people to help with a cause and that is what they need to be focused on.

  5. June 14, 2013 at 8:38 am — Reply

    When I give, I try to see if I can specify what I want to the money to go towards. As an example, I give to my college alma mater and I specify that I want the money to be used for financial aid. I have to be honest and say that I don’t 100% know to what extent that request is followed, but feeling like you have some control is nice. That site is pretty eye-opening and definitely worth checking out before giving. Some of those numbers are scary.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:42 pm — Reply

      I like charities that allow you to do that, but as you said, how do you know that request is being followed? I don’t know if we could actually get insight into that.

  6. June 14, 2013 at 9:14 am — Reply

    This is what puts me off donating to charity, you’re never quite sure exactly how much of your donation is helping the cause, and how much is lining the fat cats pockets at the top. i think the only way to know for sure is to volunteer or give the cash direct.

  7. June 14, 2013 at 12:22 pm — Reply

    There are so many shady people out there. It’s sad that you have to do research on where you give money, but it’s the way our world is now.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:43 pm — Reply

      That is so true Sean. It is the way it is.

  8. June 14, 2013 at 12:42 pm — Reply

    It’s an unfortunate necessity that you have to research an organization before donating. Many do put their donations to good use, while others seem to exist merely to take our money to line their pockets. I work hard to cultivate a sharing mindset in the girls and it’s sad that I also have to teach them to make sure the organization is legit too.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:44 pm — Reply

      You are right, it is sad Shannon. We shouldn’t have to teach our kids to be wary of giving back to certain places. I think this is the main reason why more people don’t give.

  9. Jake @ Common Cents Wealth
    June 14, 2013 at 12:56 pm — Reply

    My wife and I haven’t done a whole lot of giving yet, but we plan to start. This is great advice and it’s kind of scary how much some charities can get away with. You’d think that the majority of your money would actually be going to the cause but, unfortunately, that’s just not the case.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm — Reply

      It really isn’t the case is it Jake? I am well aware that charities cost money to run, but if you are only giving away a few percentage points of your funds, then there is something wrong.

  10. June 14, 2013 at 10:03 pm — Reply

    Researching before donating is such an important thing. It’s really a slap in the face if you donate to help a cause you believe in, and find out that only a fraction of your hard-earned money actually went to helping the people in need!

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:45 pm — Reply

      It is a slap in the face and one that I don’t appreciate.

  11. June 14, 2013 at 10:07 pm — Reply

    That’s the sad thing. Al you wanted was to help wholeheartedly then you discovered that the employees or “volunteers” are getting the money and a little percentage was only being released for the actual charity. So yeah, do your research first.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:46 pm — Reply

      Research is important, but I am not sure a lot of people actually know how to do the proper research.

  12. June 14, 2013 at 11:50 pm — Reply

    It really is sad how many charities spend most of their donations on things other than their cause. You would think the government would do something about that.

  13. June 15, 2013 at 7:05 am — Reply

    Unfortunately it is hard to control, I prefer to donate for emergencies, some food or my time, at least I know where it goes.

    • June 16, 2013 at 9:46 pm — Reply

      Good point Pauline. I do like to donate my time or food. You can actually see where that is going.

  14. June 15, 2013 at 12:55 pm — Reply

    Great advice, it can be so rewarding and helpful. We have to research, sad but true!

  15. June 15, 2013 at 1:55 pm — Reply

    I try to research a charity before handing over money as well. It’s important that the agency is handling their money responsibly and putting it into the programs that they are using to help people.
    I guess on the flip side, I have worked in nonprofits for about ten years and I can tell you that it’s difficult to keep talented people on staff if you don’t pay semi-competitively. When it comes to staff retention, a lot of these charities are competing with government departments that can afford to pay their staff sometimes almost double what nonprofits can.
    I can’t comment on all the ways charities might be spending too much money but I know staffing is a big one.

  16. June 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm — Reply

    I am sure that it is hard to keep talented people. That is an issue at many organizations. One problem I see is that some charities are paying way too much for talent retention. They have forgotten the overall goal and that is the cause that they are fighting for.

  17. Jenny @ Frugal Guru Guide
    June 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm — Reply

    We use GuideStar and Charity navigator to investigate large charities.

  18. June 18, 2013 at 10:25 am — Reply

    Great post Grayson, I just remember when 911 happened everyone gave so much to the Red Cross and turns out that they did things like “upgrade their phone system” and it really ruffled some feathers, so you gotta watch it for sure. Best thing to do it keep it local and help out the small organizations.

    June 20, 2013 at 12:32 am — Reply

    The easiest way to avoid the worst charities is to simply keep it local. You will find every major celebrity out there trying to start his/her own charity and each ones has crazy overhead costs. Just stick to who is doing good work close to you and you can’t go wrong.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *