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How to check out a charity

Giving Tuesday or any business with a donation jar, how do you know your money is going to the people who need it?

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Giving Tuesday is the big push for charitable giving. You may have received an email, a phone call, or the last time you gave to charity, it was a donation jar on a counter. Either way, you want to know your money is being actually spent on those in need.

“I always look for charities that give 80% of their profits to the program. Some say 75% is satisfactory for them, you have to make up your own mind. You can go to our report and find out what percent of your money goes to your purpose,” said NC Secretary of State Elaine Marshall.

In the NC Annual report of charities, there is a list of solicitors, or professional companies, allowed to ask you to give. For example,
Automotive Recovery Services collected money on behalf of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Piedmont Triad. It could have been a jar on the counter of the detail shop or the auction office. Either way, of the $150 they collected, $75 went to the organization, that's half. Where did the other money go? Who knows?

Donating directly to the charity may be your best bet. You can check on a charity, local or worldwide using the site Charity Navigator. The website looks at the how a charity spends money.

Let's stick with Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Piedmont Triad.  Charity Navigator gives an overall rating and a little farther down the page, you’ll see a graphic that shows a snapshot of the Program Expense Ratio. This ratio shows the organization spends 71% of all money to help the people they serve versus salaries or whatever else.

Don’t Miss This! If someone tells you to go to the store to buy a gift card and read the numbers off over the phone to make your donation, it’s a scam!

“That's very much a red flag. Nope, your money will not be going to a charity,” said Marshall.


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