Looking For A Charity? – Your guide to the top Charities and 401(c)(3)s

How To Pick A Charity By Rating It

Just like picking a new car, the right house, or the right spouse, picking the right charity is an important decision. Even though there is a tax benefit to donating to charities, the money you’ve earned has a value associated with it. It represents your hard work, and should be spent, saved, and given carefully.

Which charity? There are so many!

When you have decided that you want to donate, first question is often, which charity should I donate to. Throughout our nation, there are hundreds of thousands of charities to choose from. Charities range from the local YMCA, or the local church to a giant multi-country organization that responds to disasters.  There are charities you can trust, and there are charities you can’t. There are charities that use most of their money on staffing, and others that run a tight ship.  When picking a charity, filter them to find the best one.

The following is a way for you to systematically pick the best non-profit for you. Start by making a list of organizations that you may be interested in supporting. With any of these preferences, you can skip any one, or rate the actual preference with less weight than others.

Large, Medium, or Small

Rating charities based on size is important because it affects where your money is actually going to go and determines who it will benefit.  It also is important based on the amount you want to donate. No matter which charity you give to, the gift will be a benefit to the organization, but it should also be based on needs. Small charities have less needs than larger ones. They require less to operate and their reach is also limited. Larger charities are already established and need donations to keep the establishment running smoothly. Low donations one year could cause a large charity to be stagnent. Sometimes it is better to give larger gifts to larger charities, or split them among medium charities.

One question you should ask yourself is, do you like the feeling of being a part of something bigger than yourself, or do you prefer the satisfaction of helping those immediately around you? This should determine how important the size of the charity is to you. As you begin rating charities, put the charities in order of your preferred size.

Put a score of 10, 8, 5 beside each charity based on your size preference.

Highest Heart Value

Your money should always follow your heart (not the other way around). In your life, you have various passions and values that are important in deciding the right charity to donate to. Write down what you care about, and think about what the money sitting in your bank account can accomplish for those passions.

What are your values in life? Do you care about relationships, children, success, well-being, helping others or spiritual welfare? Do you care mostly about justice, the environment, arts, education, or religion?  From the list of your passions, turn that into another list of the top 5 categories for types of non-profits you would support.  Put them in order of what you are most passionate about.

Now put a score of 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 next to your original list of charities based on your category order.

Highest Trust & Credibility

Trusting a charity is important. When you donate to a charity, you put a certain amount of trust in the fact that that organization will use your money for what you entended it for.  There is nothing worse than to give a charity a large gift to find out that the money never went to where you entended it to go.

Many charities use marketing to influence people to give to their cause. Some charities use mis-information or twisting of facts to receive donations.  Money can corrupt even a seemingly good cause.  Will you give to a charity that promotes freedom but in fact they hurt people?  Are you willing to give to organizations that promote change, but the change that actually happens is harmful? Or will you give to charities that seemingly help people but in fact they merely enable their bad behaviors?

Research is key. Even though there are horror stories of charitable organizations, there are many trustworthy and credible non-profit organizations that will make the most of your giving.

Now comes the time-consuming part. Research each organization (to a degree). Look for negative and positive comments said about the organization. Look for third party reviews. And rate accordingly on the trust factor.

Rate the most trusted charity 10, the second in line 8, and the third 5.

Highest Impact on the Thankful Scale

The last thing you want when giving your money to a charity is to have that money sitting around, not doing any good for anyone. Charities should make an impact. They should change lives, not just pay the salaries of the staff. Charities should make a positive impact on people in some way.

The best charities make the highest impacts. Red Cross for instance is one of the largest charities in America and their job is to help in times of disaster.  The money you give to them will go to areas of the U.S. and other parts of the world that are devastated in natural disasters.  Any one of us could be involved in a natural disaster at any time. The Red Cross would be a very high-impact charity that will help countless people, perhaps even someone you know.

When rating for the impact of the charity, consider the level of help given and the gratitude level that would be expressed. For instance, the Red Cross would be a 9 out of a gratitude level of 10 while the local history museum would be a 2 out of 10 of a gratitude level.

Give each of your charities a score of 0-10 for thankfulness.


Your results should now reflect your interests and values. The top pick should be the one that has the highest value for both you and for others. Remember, the purpose of rating charities is to you can filter out the bad ones, not to just pick the top ones. It would be a good idea to regularly run through this cycle every few months to keep a fresh list of charities available.

Also as you find charities you like, share with your friends and support them in other ways. Many charities offer opportunities to volunteer and give in other ways.