Here’s how you can evaluate charitable organizations that receive more than $500,000 in the most recent fiscal year.
Options for evaluating local organizations:
- Better Business Bureau – People have relied on the BBB for decades, but mtA has recently discovered that the BBB may not research the organizations it recommends. Find details here
- Indiana Secretary of State – https://secure.in.gov/sos/bus_service/online_corps/name_search.aspx
Confirm that the organization is registered and current with the Indiana Secretary of State.
- Guide Star — www.guidestar.org
You will have to register, but that will gain you access to all 501(c)(3) organizations registered with the IRS. Most information is searchable at no charge, although some of the data is written by the organization. Still, you have access to 990 tax forms, and this can give you a rough idea of where the money goes (i.e. administration, fund raising, animal care, etc.) Numerous options are available, but some are free.
Personally ask the organization for their annual report or a copy of their 990 tax form. A non-profit organization that has nothing to hide will show you where they spend their donor dollars.
Make sure you understand if the group is a registered non-profit or not. Many are, but not all. If they are not a registered non-profit, they may still certainly be worth supporting; just be aware that your donation will not qualify as a tax deduction.
- Make sure you're truly rewarding the conduct you wish to encourage. http://www.animalpeoplenews.org/96/1/editorial.html