Giving to charity is a noble cause because you’re aiming to help others less fortunate than yourself. It’s a sign that you care for your fellow human beings, and if you don’t have the time to volunteer, monetary donations are always welcome at charities and nonprofit organizations. Money, however, is precious, and when you donate, you’ll want to know whether your contribution is being used reasonably and in a way that will benefit the cause you’re supporting, not just funding the charity’s expenses. Luckily, there are ways to check whether or not an organization is using your money the way you want them to be. Here’s how you can check.

 

The I.R.S.

 

All nonprofit organizations need to list themselves as charitable organizations by turning in a 501(c)3 to the I.R.S. Checking their website will let you know whether or not the place you want to donate is a legitimate charity or not. In order to get a tax deduction for your donation, the charity you donate to must be a qualified one by the I.R.S. You can visit this site to search their database of charities so you can verify the status of the organization you want to donate to.

 

Charity Navigator / Guidestar.org

 

After considering the expenses that nonprofit organizations need to pay to keep themselves afloat, what percentage of your contribution is going directly toward the cause they strive for? Some charities use as little of their donations as possible to pay the expenses of running a nonprofit and put most of their earnings toward their cause, while others use a little more than they should. Sites like Charity Navigator and Guidestar.org will be able to show you how charities are using their money and help you decide where to donate. When looking for a charity to donate to, you should find one that uses less than 30% of its total costs to pay for administration and fundraising expenses. That way, you know your contribution is truly supporting your cause.

 

Better Business Bureau

 

When choosing where to donate, you’ll also want to know whether or not the charity’s reputation is a positive or negative one. It’s easier now more than ever to look up people’s reviews of existing organizations, and nonprofits are no exception. You can find any complaints lodged against charities on Give.org, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. Read each review carefully—while some complaints might be for legitimate reasons, others could be there because of personal gripes that are otherwise unreasonable to others.