Money & Finance

Top 5 Best And Worst Charities To Donate To In 2024

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Hands cupped together holding a donation sign written on cardboard.
A little homework can go a long way when considering where to donate your hard-earned money.

Looking to get a charity tax deduction? How do you know which are the best and worst charities to donate to? It’s not so much which are the best causes (as that could be highly debatable and subjective), but rather what’s the best use of your hard-earned money and return on your dollar? Is your money going to have a large impact and make a difference in the cause or will it go to waste on expensive overhead or unnecessary spending? We’ll share with you a little more about charitable donations tax deductions and our top picks for the best charities to give to (as well as those not to give to).

Most Effective Charities To Donate To

Americans donated around $417 billion to charity in 2021 and a record number of donations on Giving Tuesday with $2.7 billion in one day. That’s according to The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEF) which puts out quarterly reports of charitable giving.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of worthwhile causes all over the world that need financial support. Whether it be a call from your alma mater, a radio ad for a veteran’s hospital, or a postcard from your local pet shelter.

So many good causes are attempting to tug at your heartstrings and fight for a piece of your wallet. But with so many options, how do you know which are the most efficient charities and the best bang for your buck?

Do Your Research Before Donating

There are many great charities to consider donating to, and the best one for you will depend on your personal values and interests. Some factors to consider when choosing a charity to donate to include the organization’s mission, effectiveness, and transparency.

6 Essential Tips For Finding A Good Charity

Here are a few tips to help you choose a charity to donate to:

  1. Identify your passions and values: Think about the issues that matter most to you and look for charities that align with those values.
  2. Research the organization: Check out the charity’s website and other resources to learn more about its mission, goals, and impact. Make sure the charity is transparent about how it uses donations and that it has a proven track record of effectiveness.
  3. Consider the charity’s financial health: Look for charities that have a strong financial foundation and use donations wisely. You can check out sites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar to see how charities compare in terms of financial health and accountability.
  4. Get recommendations: Ask friends, family, and other trusted sources for recommendations on charities they support and believe in.
  5. Be wary of charities that pressure you to donate: Reputable charities should not pressure you to donate or use high-pressure tactics to solicit donations.
  6. Avoid charities that seem too good to be true: If a charity’s claims seem too good to be true or if the organization is not transparent about how it uses donations, it may not be a reputable charity.

Remember, there are many great charities out there doing important work, so take some time to research and find the one that aligns best with your values and interests.

How To Check If A Charity Is Legit

Some organizations have catchy names that make them seem like they’re legit but be careful. You can do your own digging around but to save time here are a few reputable websites you can reference:

  1. CharityWatch
  2. Charity Navigator
  3. BBB Wise Giving Alliance

These three sites tell you everything from how they raise (and spend) money, to their transparency with the public and governorship within the organization. They examine charities regularly and give them a grade or rating that can be used to evaluate whether or not they are worthy of your money.

Guidestar is another useful database that gives you financial data on nonprofits (on their 990 forms required by the IRS), board and operations staff listings, and results. You can search for information on a specific organization or use it to get ideas by putting in criteria including geography and cause type. It’s free to create an account to see details, and you can upgrade if you’re interested in additional features.

We’ve researched these resources, and additional sites like Consumer Reports, to compile a list of the best charities to donate to for you.

7 Best Charities To Donate To In 2022

Below are our top picks for good charities to donate to based on what we consider to be the most efficient charities (ie. they make the best use of your hard-earned dollars).

These organizations are selected for their high ratings and the large percentage of money spent on programs and the communities they serve (versus administrative costs and salaries, for example, dollars the charities themselves never see). So, you can be confident that your donation will be put to good use.

  1. Action Against Hunger
  2. ALS Association
  3. American Civil Liberties Union
  4. Charity: Water
  5. Conservation International Foundation
  6. Partners In Health
  7. Save the Children

These groups came up consistently as the best, A-rated companies.

5 Worst Charities To Donate To In 2022

And now here’s our list of worst charities. What makes them so bad? Many factors include how little they actually contribute back to their mission and cause. Some of these give a measly 2% towards those efforts and upwards of 70% on salaries, professional fundraisers, and marketing. These came up on nearly every list we found, so be careful before you fork over dollars (more like pennies) to these groups.

  1. American Breast Cancer Foundation
  2. Association for Firefighters & Paramedics (Terminated, No Longer Active)
  3. Children’s Wish Foundation
  4. Firefighter’s Charitable Foundation
  5. Kids Wish Network

Many of the lowest-rated companies we found are very vague and involve children, cancer/illness, veterans, or firefighters. And be cautious of scams and knock-off charities of more well-established, successful organizations like the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Are Donations Tax Deductible?

Tax-deductible donations and how much you get back depend on a number of factors including your tax bracket. However, charitable giving can be a wise decision not only for moral but financial reasons as well. However, don’t just assume a charity is a non-profit. Unless they are registered as a 501(c)(3) they are not technically tax-exempt and therefore your donation is not tax deductible.

Video: Giving Tips For Tax Deductible Donations

The end of the year is often a popular time to give money and make a charity tax deduction. Watch this quick video from Time that shares some things you should keep in mind when doing charitable donations for tax deductions.

Budget Your Charitable Contributions With Personal Finance Software

Don’t forget to include charitable donations when preparing your budget for the year. Need a little help with your finances? Check out our comparison of two top personal financial solutions, Mint and Personal Capital, so you can affordably keep your books straight.

Sadie Cornelius

Sadie has a bachelor’s in communications and minor in business from the University of Texas at Austin. She has been writing about, researching and a user of security and smart home technology since 2012. As an early adapter and avid user of gadgets, she’s not only well-versed in how to use them but also passionate about helping others integrate them into their lives and homes. Having lived in various urban neighborhoods in major cities, she has experienced her share of property crimes over the years; from car break-ins to stolen bikes. As a result, she’s extra cautious when it comes to protecting herself and her property. Her expertise has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The New York Times' Wirecutter, Forbes, People, Reader's Digest, Apartment Therapy, and other regional news organizations.

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