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June 28, 2013

Smart Giving: We're a Smart Choice

There have recently been stories in the news highlighting a gap between how much some charitable organizations collect and how much is spent on programs. Specifically, the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) released a report listing the “Top 50 Worst Charities in America” alleging that 11 cents or less of each dollar donated went to the actual cause and that many were not actively fulfilling the mission of their organization.

We know there are many organizations competing for your charitable dollar and that we are most likely not the only charity you support. We have a deep respect for our donors. It is important to us that we are good stewards of your dollar and that your contributions are put to good use.

Just like buying a home or new appliances or a car, it is important that you do your research before writing a check to a nonprofit. Here are a few questions you should ask to learn more about a charity and where your money goes.

What is the mission of the organization and how do they accomplish it?
Believing in the mission of a charity is important, but you should also find out how they work towards their goal. Many nonprofits publish an annual report to highlight their successes which can be a good place to get a snapshot of a charity’s work. Check out ours here.

How does the organization spend its money?
Each year, charities must submit a Form 990 to the IRS showing information about their programs and budget. Check if a charity is financially responsible by utilizing sites like Charity Navigator, Charity Watch or GuideStar. We're proud that 80% of funds raised are spent on our life-sustaining programs. This far exceeds the 65% minimum program expenses suggested by the Better Business Bureau.

Is the organization transparent and accountable?
Transparent nonprofits will post important information on their website such as the names of the Board of Directors, leadership staff, Form 990s and audited financial statements. You can find all of this on our website.

If you have any questions about how we are turning your support into good, please contact Pat Cornell, Director of Development, at or at (202) 269-6870.

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