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How to find the best charities for Giving Tuesday

Americans are expected to contribute billions to charities Tuesday. Some websites can help determine which ones are worthy of donations.
Posted at 7:00 AM, Nov 28, 2023

Today is Giving Tuesday, an annual day when charities are reaching out for contributions heading into the holiday season. The day always comes one day after Cyber Monday. 

While many of us are willing to help charities with some funds, we want our hard-earned money to go to good use. There are ways of determining if the charity you are giving to will actually spend the money for its intended purpose.

One easy way is using websites such as Charity Navigator. The website allows donors to search for reputable organizations. Charity Navigator rates charities based on four criteria: Impact & Results, Accountability & Finance, Leadership & Adaptability, and Culture & Community.

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The charities are then given a score from 0-100, with those earning a grade of 90-100 garnering a four-star rating. The website uses tax return information to make its determination.

Charity Navigator said it recently updated its methodology to give donors "a more holistic and nuanced view of nonprofit effectiveness."

“Our latest rating methodology represents a step forward in our commitment to provide donors with the most comprehensive insights possible,” says Michael Thatcher, President & CEO of Charity Navigator. “This release brings the total number of organizations assessed on impact over the 2,000 mark, empowering donors with a deeper understanding of the transformative impact they're making on the causes closest to their hearts.”

CharityWatch also provides donors with background information on charities. Like Charity Navigator, CharityWatch provides users with a 0-100 score, which correlates with letter grades.

The organization largely looks at how much it costs organizations to raise each $100. If an organization spends less than $4 to raise $100, it generally gets an A+ rating, while organizations that spend over $60 to raise $100 typically get an F rating.

“Giving Tuesday serves as a reminder to balance our individual needs with the needs of the people and causes that most need our help,” said CharityWatch Executive Director Laurie Styron. “But in reality, every day is a good day to turn our thoughts and words into actions by identifying efficient and effective charities to support and making donations.

Last week, the organization released a list ofits top-rated charities.These charities generally spend at least 75% of their funds on programs, less than 25% on administration and have transparent accounting. 

The founders of Giving Tuesdayestimate that more than $3.1 billion in donations were made on Giving Tuesday in 2022.