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Posted: 2:45 p.m. Monday, Dec. 23, 2013

Clark's charity donation guide

Maximize the impact of your generosity


By Clark Howard

Before donating to any charity,  you want to be sure that the lion's share of the money will go where it's needed.  Every charity has different overhead costs. You can research you favorite charities -- learning how much of your donation will go to the intended purpose (vs. how much will go to overhead)  at, and  Here are some more important tips to keep in mind:

  • Don't give cash. Legitimate charities will take a check

  •  Don't give credit card, bank account or personal information to telemarketers. If you want to donate, initiate the call yourself.

  • Don't give to Internet appeals if the cause does not look legitimate and doesn't check out. Traditional frauds have gone electronic in recent years, giving con artists easy access to thousands of potential victims.

  • Don't give in to pressure. Anyone that can't wait for a donation while you check out his or her organization is likely to be a crook.

  • Expect specific information. Ask what kind of relief this organization is going to provide. Don't give to a vague appeal.

  • Check out the charity with national, state and local authorities. Established charities register with the Internal Revenue Service. You can search for specific non-profit organizations on the IRS website,

  • Beware of newly formed organizations. If the charity is new, you may have to rely on your relationship with the company or sponsor of the organization to determine whether you trust the group.

  •  Report abuses to the nearest Better Business Bureau and the State Attorney General's office. Both are listed in local telephone directories. You can also report abuses to the National Fraud Information Center at (800) 876-7060. NFIC also has a web-based complaint form at

  • Do give. Experts agree that needs will be great both now and in the months to come.


    *Source: The Los Angeles Times



    A guide to the best and worst military charities
    The American Institute of Philanthropy recently took a look at the best and worst military charities you can donate to on behalf of veterans. The AIP "grades" each charity on an A-F scale:

    Top choices

    • Army Emergency Relief Fund (A+)
    • Air Force Aid Society (A+)
    • Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (A+)
    • Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (A+)
    • Fisher House Foundaton (A+)
    • Armed Services YMCA of the USA (A-)
    • National Military Family Association (A)

    Ones to avoid

    • American Ex-Prisoners of War Service Foundaton (F)
    • American Veterans Relief Foundation (F)
    • AMVETS National Service Foundation (F)
    • Freedom Alliance (F)
    • Help Hospitalized Veterans/Coalition to Salute America's Heroes (F)
    • Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation (F)
    • National Veterans Service Fund (F)
    • NCOA National Defense Foundation (F)
    • Paralyzed Veterans of America (F)
    • Vietnow National Headquarters (F)