When you give a dollar to a charity, how do you know that money is going to its intended recipients?
The Tampa Bay Times recently ran a big expose on America's Worst Charities. Several of the ones they look at gave zero cents of the money fund-raised to the charitable cause they were pretending to collect on behalf of.
Many others gave as little as one-tenth of one cent of each dollar collected. And the best of the worst? They gave only 8 cents of each dollar collected to the actual charity beneficiary.
All of the charities examined were considered legitimate charities by the IRS. And unfortunately, they use names that are almost identical to the names of nationally recognized charities to create confusion.
My first rule of charity donation is give to organizations you're personally familiar with -- the ones you've volunteered with or otherwise participated in.
If you're approached on the phone or on a street corner, always ask the solicitor for literature. Then check the name of the organization against CharityWatch.org, CharityNavigator.org, or Give.org.