To make the most impact with your giving, here’s a quick summary of the resources available to you:
Guidestar – best starting point since every nonprofit that has been active for over a year will be listed. Currently 1.8 million can be searched by sector, size, location and other criteria. Organizations are encouraged to self-report information about their programs and results. Philanthropedia is a division of Guidestar and gathers expert reviews of nonprofits with targeted services.
Charity Navigator – provides ratings for charities based on their financial health, accountability & transparency, and eventually, results reporting. Currently 8,359 US-based, publicly supported charities with over 6 year of IRS reporting with revenues over $1 million for two consecutive years.
Charity Watch – in depth research and “Letter Grades” [A to F] on 622 charitable organizations for an annual membership of $50. The top rated charities (spending $25 or less to raise $100 in public support) are available to the general public – definitely worth a look.
GiveWell – thorough investigations of 61 charities that help the global poor. Four criteria: effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, transparency, and “room for more funding” for a series of identified programs. Article by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic – The Greatest Good – with a good perspective – and extensive commenting.
The Life You Can Save – advocacy and fundraising for 18 global organizations fighting extreme poverty based on the work of author Peter Singer. Offers “Giving Game” to provide a forum for engaging in discussions about the relative merits of charities and the challenges of allocating donations.
United Way – over 1,800 local United Way organizations conducts annual reviews of local nonprofits and publishes lists of their grantees and their approach to outcomes measurement. Even if you don’t support them through workplace giving, United Way grantees are a good starting point for your local community.
Combined Federal Campaign – the official workplace giving campaign of the Federal government. To participate in one of the hundreds of local CFC regional areas, as opposed to being nationally eligible and participating in every campaign area, a charitable organization must be able to demonstrate that it has a “substantial” program presence within the campaign’s (or an adjacent campaign’s) geographical boundaries or within the state of the campaign.
America’s Charities – Employers seeking to launch or revitalize workplace giving programs and meet the challenges presented by our digital culture to produce robust and meaningful employee engagement programs.
GlobalGiving – a helpful list of global organizations that have grassroots support – strong in the areas of their focus.
Wise Giving Alliance – offering of BBB – agencies that have accepted the Better Business Bureau’s invitation to be listed – definitely not “extreme vetting.”
JustGive.org – online resource to facilitate giving.
Great Nonprofits – consumer comments – social media posts
Local Independent Charities of America – federation of more than 700 local nonprofit charitable organizations that help its member charities participate more efficiently in work-place giving campaigns.
Ashoka – through a global network of over 3,300 social entrepreneurs – Ashoka Fellows – this community is finding patterns of social development, providing key levers and a framework for living in the world as a changemaker. Impressive list of partners.
CNN Heroes – annual awards with video documentaries celebrating everyday people changing the world – nearly all are aligned with a equally impressive charitable organization worthy of your support
Salesforce.com – Force for Change Grants Program – impressive descriptions of annual awards to support organizations using information technology to accelerate social impact with the potential for cause-wide deployment.
National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS) – source of high quality data on nonprofit organizations – division of Urban Institute
National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) – good resources page
Readers Digest article by Derek Burnett” How Charities Spend your Money: Eye-opening Truths to Read before you Donate
GiveSpot – interesting collection of nonprofit sites – banner ads – part of the StartSpot Network – GourmetSpot, PeopleSpot, TripSpot