Volunteering your time, donating money and fundraising are all great ways to give back to humanity.  At least with volunteering or fundraising you fully understand that what you’ve given is worth every penny; usually.   Donating money to your favorite charity can be another story and hopefully it’s worth a fraction of a penny.    So, what should you look for before donating your hard earned cash?

Sites like Charity Watchdogs and Charity Navigators give helpful information regarding the percentage of donations that actually go to the cause and how much is used for expenses.  Expenses sometimes translates to salary, so be careful.

For example, if a charity is using more than 30% of their total budget for overhead expenses than that charity isn’t cutting it.  This is why it’s important to do some research before giving to non-profits.

Top charities only use a little more than 10% of their total budget toward expenses and the remaining percentage goes to completing the mission, awesome right?  Charities like American Red Cross and Doctors without Borders are just a few charities that use 80-90 cent of every dollar towards their mission.

Now here’s an example of the opposite. Remember Invisible Children and their mission to save Ugandan children from being used as soldiers? Since the KONY 2012 YouTube video went viral with over 71 million views millions of people were put on to their cause. But with fame comes haters. So many videos were bashing the group; saying the issue isn’t Kony, it’s deeper, like White House deep. Jesus Christ; who to believe? So I asked a basic “charity” question; where is the money going?

Charity Navigators published that only around 30% of their total budget is going to the mission, the rest?  Not to Ugandan children that’s for sure.  You gotta wonder what’s up when an organization is only using around 30 cents of every dollar for the actual cause.  However, many charities go beyond the two-thirds standard of the total amount of donations that go directly towards the mission.

Before giving to your favorite charity and reading later that your donations are being used mostly for overhead and expenses, which really translates to hookers and cars, have a look on the web and see if the charity is really helping people and not just themselves. There are plenty of reputable informative resources to help you decide which non-profits are doing good. And that’s not a grammatical error, charities are supposed to do good.