Get Informed

5 Smart Tips for Giving to Charity

An Array of Cash

World of Children goes to great lengths to ensure that the Honorees we support and elevate are honest and sustainable. Read below to learn how you can be prepared to make smart decisions when you donate your hard-earned money to charities.

An Alarming Discovery

Over the past year, reporters from the Tampa Bay Times and Center for Investigative Reporting looked through the public and federal records of nearly 6,000 charities that paid for-profit companies to increase overall donations. Their investigation uncovered some alarming information.

They discovered that 50 of these charities devoted less than 4% of donations to direct aid. The rest was spent on operating costs and hiring fundraising companies. Collectively, these charities raised more than $1.3 billion over ten years, and paid close to $1 billion to for-profit companies to increase donations.

“Until today, no one had tallied the cost of this parasitic segment of the nonprofit industry or traced the long history of its worst offenders,” stated CNN.

One charity that topped the list spends less than 3 cents per dollar to support sick children, the population it claims to serve.

“As shocking as the story on is, it should not be surprising to many of us in the philanthropic world,” said World of Children co-founder Harry Leibowitz. “Many of us who have established and run some of the smaller philanthropies work very, very hard to keep our expenses down so we can do more for those to whom we are committed.”

5 Tips to be a Savvy Donor

We hope that this list will not deter philanthropic individuals from supporting vital causes. Innumerable charities are actively working to change the world for the better. We know. Every year, we award extraordinary people who run proven, sustainable programs for children. Over the past 16 years, we have awarded more than 100 rigorously vetted organizations serving children in 140 countries around the world.

Before choosing our annual Honorees, we vet and investigate their programs, ensuring that every dollar we award will make a real, visible impact for children. Donors, too, can take a few easy steps to make sure their donations are well-spent. Here are our top 5 tips for making smart decisions as a donor:

1) Find out the percentage of donations that directly aid programs.

Free the Children Donation Breakdown
Look for websites with clear statements of where your money goes

Most charities tell donors up front exactly how much of your donation will impact their programs. A clear display of this information not only tells you where your money is going, but that the charity values an honest relationship with their donors. For example, the image to the left comes from past World of Children Honoree Craig Kielburger, whose organization Free The Children has grown into one of the largest youth empowerment movements in the world.

2) Do your research.

Spend extra time visiting charity review sites like GreatNonprofits to read external opinions. Watchdog groups like GuideStar are also great resources.

3) Check commitment to transparency and accountability.

Take a few moments to look through a charity’s annual reports and 990 tax form. Many charities host their annual reports on their websites, and 990 tax forms are usually available online. These can indicate whether or not a charity holds itself accountable to its donors and the programs it supports.

4) Watch out for sound-alike names.

Several of the charities that were investigated by the Tampa Bay Times used names similar to established organizations in an attempt to confuse donors. Be 100% certain that the charity is who they say they are before opening your checkbook. For example, “Kids Wish Network” and “Children’s Wish Foundation International” (two of the charities included in the report) are not the same as the “Make-a-Wish” Foundation.

5) Get involved!

World of Children Ambassadors
World of Children Volunteer Ambassadors

Volunteering is a great way to learn more about a charity without having to commit financially. Join an ambassador group, volunteer at a local program, or help spread awareness. Charities that value your time will more than likely value how they spend your donations as well.

In the end, giving to a charity should involve some thought and research to ensure your donation is having a quality impact. World of Children is proud to stand behind nearly 100 Honorees whose proven, sustainable programs have made a visible difference for children. We welcome and value your support.

We are dedicated to being transparent and accountable. We welcome our supporters to read our Annual Report and 990 tax filing which is openly available online.

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