19 November 2006

charity begins on the web

I was reminded today of a cool web site I found about a year ago that I think deserves more attention.

The backstory is that I had been making charitable donations through a payroll deduction to the Entertainment Industry Foundation. I had some gross level options on what I wanted my contributions to fund. It wasn't great, but it was easy. In addition we were contributing to a few other charities directly (Planned Parenthood, etc.).

My employer decided to end the relationship with EIF and setup an internal organization to disburse funds. However this new organization would provide little to no control or reporting to the employee. I was pissed. I immediately stopped my payroll deductions and set about systematically dealing with my own charity contributions.

The cool website that helped with this was Charity Navigator. They rate about 5000 charities for financial health and efficiency. They allow you to compare charities to their peers (or is it competitors ?). This was a great help in figuring out what to contribute money too. For example, we stopped contributing to Habitat for Humanity because of their horrible efficiency rating. But they have gotten much better recently, so I plan to revisit that decision.

One other thing I did was try to make as many contributions a recurring monthly charge to my credit card. This helps me spread out the donation over the year, plus I get some frequent flyer miles. But not all charities support this.

For the curious, here are the charities I give to. The ones in red are not charities for tax purposes.


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