So you have some money you’d like to contribute to a charity, but which one do you choose? Contributing to charities is one of the greatest things you can do to help improve your community, help others who may be less fortunate, or to support an initiative of your choice, such as wildlife conservation. Charitable contributions come in the form of monetary donations, donating goods and services, or contributing your time to support a cause – and you may be surprised to know that charitable contributions have remained strong even as the worldwide economy has taken a hit over the past year. It’s estimated that in the US and UK alone, 70% of citizens donate to charity in some way, and recent US figures show that charitable giving in 2008 topped the $300 billion mark (Source).
Needless to say, there is a seemingly endless number of charity sites worldwide that aim to improve local communities and various initiatives. In London alone, there are thousands of charities accepting charitable donations and picking one isn’t always easy (Source). Sorting through the millions of different charities can be quite a tedious task for anyone, but there are several useful websites out there that can help you find a charity that suits your needs. Whether you’re looking for international charities, local charitable organizations, charities organized by initiative, or any other deciding factor, the resources below will have you on your way in no time. This is a list of some of the most useful resources available on the web today for finding specific charity sites, getting more information about philanthropy, researching facts and figures about various charitable organizations and much more.
Since 2001, Charity Navigator has been one of the most (if not the most) popular US-based charity resource website. They research individual charities to see whether they are legit and whether or not their financials are all in line. They offer some useful “Top 10 Lists”, commentary, advice and plenty of resources to help philanthropists choose the right charity. They also offer a cool interactive world map that lets you click on a country to display all of the four-star charities available in that area.
American Institute of Philanthropy
With over 500 charities in their database organized by initiative, the non-profit charity watchdog called the American Institute of Philanthropy keeps potential charitable donors informed about the financial situation, as well as other criteria, of the charitable organizations in their list. Best of all, they grade each charity from A to F, so you can quickly get a good idea about a charity’s financial situation, age, and other criteria, making it easy to weed out the bad seeds. They offer a Charity Rating Guide by mail, which is a full report about the charities within their database. This website is a great resource.
Better Business Bureau
The mission of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is to build trust in the marketplace between buyers and sellers, and this commitment extends to charitable organizations as well. The BBB has a huge list of charities organized alphabetically. They also offer a page that lists charities that have achieved the BBB Wise Giving Alliance Seal, which means that the charity has met the standards for charity accountability according to the BBB. The BBB website also allows you to inquire about a specific charity to find out more information, or you can file a complaint about any charity.
Internal Revenue Service
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) of the United States Department of the Treasury, in accordance with Section 170(c) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, offers a search feature at their website that allows you to search for organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable donations. You can search by city, state, country, or keyword. The advantage of this website is that it offers probably the greatest number of charitable organizations worldwide in their database, but it doesn’t offer any kind of rating system, so you should do your due diligence elsewhere.
Offering a huge database of nearly 1.5 million charities, making it one of the biggest charity sites in the world. Just Give is an online charity resource that features a powerful search function, plenty of resources, exclusive charity gift cards, and a useful feature that tracks your donations and sends you a single tax receipt at the end of the year for an easy way to claim charitable deductions. It’s sort of a one-stop shop for charitable giving.
Charity Channel is the premier online resource for leaders of nonprofit organizations to connect locally and around the world. Think of it sort of like the “Facebook of nonprofits”. Charity Channel has been around since 1992, so it’s a very well-established community of individuals and large organizations. The website features a huge database of articles and resources, a forum, and “Charity University” where new nonprofit organizations can learn the ropes of running a successful charity.
Taking a very unique approach to charitable giving, Charity Guide is an online resource showing busy people how to make a difference by volunteering for just 15 minutes, a few hours, or by taking a volunteer vacation. Volunteer opportunities are organized into different categories, including animal welfare, children’s issues, community development, environmental protection and more. Charity Guide offers quick and simple advice on how to volunteer your time to make the world a better place – even if it is just 15 minutes of your time. Probably the greatest aspect of this site is the volunteer vacation section which explains how you can donate your time to travel the world and save the rainforest, restore coral reefs, save wetland areas, protect endangered species, teach English abroad, alleviate suffering of children with AIDS and HIV and much more.
Charity Folks is the premier online charity auction destination on the web. It’s sort of like ebay for charities. You bid on items, or a chance to meet your favorite celebrity, and the proceeds go to the charity of the seller’s choice. There are a variety of charities involved at Charity Folks, and the advantage for donors is that you get something in return for your donation (aside from gratitude of course). Celebrities that have been involved with Charity Folks include Brad Pitt, Bruce Springsteen, Dave Mathews Band, The Jonas Brothers and more.
Looking for charity sites based in the UK? Charity Commission is a website that focuses on charities that are based primarily in England or Wales. They feature a huge database of nearly 200,000 charities, and you can use their comprehensive search function to find the perfect charity for you. The Charity Commission has strict requirements for being included in their database of charities, so you can expect to find legitimate charities that are financially accountable. They really take the risk out of donating to charity.
Are these charity sites useful? Do you know of any more? add them to the comments for others to see.