Jan 17, 2010

Tool for donating for emergency relief - Charity Navigator

After the terrible earthquake that rocked Haiti, my husband and I wanted to make a donation to help those in need. While I am not a superstar donor, I have tried over the last few years to give in some form several times a year. I've been donating blood for the last couple of years, and now that I can make my own work hours I have done three donations in a row as soon as I was eligible (just about every two months) through the American Red Cross. I try to go through my closet regularly and pare down usable items I no longer need to give to the Salvation Army. At my local Hannaford they make care packages of food at the holidays which I was able to purchase and donate with my regular groceries, and I am working with a family member in creating artwork for Olivia's Heart Fund.

These donations are local, and the charities and businesses that are involved make it easy to participate in a very direct way. But for the larger charities and relief aid for tragic events around the globe are a step removed, and the number of charities that are asking for donations are overwhelming. I am on the email list for Mercy Corps and The American Red Cross, but I want my money to make the highest possible impact since I can choose who I will participate with in helping the cause of Haiti and others. So I want to share another great resource, Charity Navigator.

Charity Navigator is a website that analyzes the data for charities so that you can get a better idea of where that donation you make is actually going. Right on the home page is information about aid for Haiti, and a link to a page of charities participating in the relief effort.

I can easily choose a charity that I know will be legitimate, and get a synopsis of the type of aid they will be supplying. Because the financial data on these charities has already been evaluated, I can see a star rating (out of four stars) of their level of efficiency.

Now as much as I love both Mercy Corps and the Red Cross, I see that right now they each have a three-star rating, and there are quite a few other charities that are rated higher. I followed the links to a few, and chose Americares and Oxfam to add to my charities (have to log in to a free account for this feature).

On the "my charities" page, I can check off several charities and compare statistics. I love this feature - now I can see  in detail where they spend their donations.

If you want to make a donation to help those who have been devastated by the earthquake, or any other cause, I'd recommend that you check out the Charity Navigator website. It's good to know who is legit, and get a better picture of where your donation is going, so that it can have the greatest impact.

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