If you are truly interested in spreading cheer this holiday season, one of the best, most common, and most classic ways of doing so is by donating to charity. However, it is more difficult to approach a donation than it is to purchase a computer, for example. With a computer, you can research and compare options online or at retail stores and then choose the best one for your needs. Why not follow a similar process for your charitable donations?
Here is a short list of websites that research and review charities:
1) Give Well
Dedicated to extremely thorough research into charities for certain targeted issues, Give Well reviews a charity’s financial statements, interviews them extensively, measures their follow-through and impact, and rates their effectiveness. This is the best option if you want three ready-to-go, thoroughly vetted, rock-solid recommendations, but the worst option if you want to browse dozens of charities and compare them. (Few charities survive their scrutiny and thus many aren’t even mentioned.)
This site is very similar to Give Well in that it thoroughly researches several issues and then recommends few, if any, charities worthy of donation. The website itself is cleaner, friendlier, and a bit more browseable, if you’re looking to do some charity shopping. See their main categories here.
3) Charity Navigator (CN)
Here, you’ll find pages and pages of charities, searchable by location, category, and rating, but most of their analysis is based on the charities’ Form 990, which is the basis for CN’s Efficiency, Transparency, and Accountability ratings. This makes it a more charity shopping-friendly website, with a wide selection of reviews, but the least thorough vetting process.
4) Guide Star
Another large database of non-profits, with transparency and efficiency analyses. Guide Star can be used complimentarily or as an alternative to Charity Navigator.
If you want to make a sound donation, without taking too much time to research, look through the top-rated charities on Give Well and Giving What You Can. Or, if you want to do some browsing, go to Charity Navigator or Guide Star and find some charities that interest you. Then, follow-up by visiting the charities’ websites and cross-referencing on GW or GWYC. Pursue a good process when choosing your charity and you will definitely feel better about your donation.
Here are my personal recommendations:
*Bill Gates’s top five charities of 2012
*Against Malaria Foundation: Number one on both Give Well and Giving What We Can; top ratings and reviews on Guide Star.
*Partners in Health: Oneof my favorite non-profits for their effective, community-based and policy-influencing work fighting HIV, AIDS, tuberculosis, and poverty in general, PIH promotes preferential treatment for the poor, which is a standard that I hope to see adopted in health care facilities around the world.
*If you want to get involved with a non-profit startup that I’m really excited about, check out Ambassadors for Sustained Health, an organization that builds economic, education, and health opportunities in small communities in Africa in order to improve health care.
Donate wisely and Merry Christmas!