There are so many philanthropic causes worthy of one's attention and donations, and several organizations help donors figure out whether the money goes where it is truly needed. NY1's Consumer Watch reporter Asa Aarons filed the following report.
In this seeming springtime of disaster many of us have heard from fundraisers looking for donations to help storm and flood victims. In these cases practically everyone wants to help in some way --and no one wants to have their good intentions abused.
"The urge is just to give when somebody asks you to give. Just take that moment and check it out," says Better Business Bureau President of Metropolitan New York President Claire Rosenzweig.
It is unrealistic to assume every dime one donates will go to the worthy cause, but there are guidelines about how a donation can be spent. Even the best charities must pay rent, transportation and storage costs for emergency supplies. As it is a tremendous undertaking, some money will be spent on administering the charity.
The Better Business Bureau has set up a percentage system to help consumers decide where to donate.
"We want to make sure that they're legitimate. There are certain things that look at we look at. We look at finances, we look at governance, we look at marketing impact. We want 65 percent of dollars raised to go towards the program," says Rosenzweig. "So if you're looking at a charity, and you're seeing it says, 'Oh, 100 percent of what we collect goes to the cause,' just be skeptical, because there's always some cost of doing business."
Some organizations keep track of charities and fundraisers. One, called "Charity Navigator," lists online a list of worthy causes and how they operate.
Another is the BBB's own system that gives free access to a search engine that will help locate the type of charity, the cause it serves and its history, members, percentage of collection and distribution of donations.
Lastly, 65 percent is a minimum. Many groups operate on very little yet provide big results. Start the search at bbb.org.