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by Ray Carlson

Q: At this time of the year, I want to make donations to worthwhile charities, but there are too many out there. Is there a website that can help me select the best?

A: Different reviews such as one last year in Kiplinger Magazine have suggested CharityNavigator as the most helpful site. They provide information and ratings on a large number of organizations divided into specific categories. For each charity, they describe the charity’s mission and their general program and allow you to connect to the charity’s own website if one exists. They give basic financial information and report what percentage of the charity’s funds is used for their stated purpose vs. administration vs. fund raising.

In addition, they indicate the charity’s growth, its financial stability and how accountable and transparent it is. They provide summary ratings but also the specific information so that you can chose a charity based on whichever facets of the ratings seem more important to you. They will generate tables to compare charities in the same field such as those that support cancer research or those that provide food to the poor, etc. You can also request tables showing changed over the past few years.

To see such comparisons and historical information, you need to register, but that only requires giving them an email address and creating a password. Once you are registered, you can create a list of your favorite charities. If you prefer, you can also use their site to make on-line donations.

Published: Courier 11/20/11 - Page 7C