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How to Vet a Charity: Some Quick Tips

The following is from a great U.S. News article.

5 Steps to Vet a Charity

1. Identity the Organization's Mission

Nonprofits file Form 990 annually with the IRS to provide an overview of their mission, finances and governance. Review the Mission section to see if it aligns with your goals.

2. Thoroughly Review Form 990.

Pay particular attention to the board of directors listed in the summary section. Line 3 lists the number of voting members of the governing body, and Line 4 states how many of those are independent. If there are members of the board who are not independent, that's cause for concern. Then scroll down the end of Form 990 to Schedule O. This schedule includes any explanations needed for other sections of the form. This information can provide additional information and insight into how an organization is run.

3. Read the Annual Report and Audit

Depending on their size and state, not every nonprofit is required to conduct an independent audit. However, if one is available, it should be easy to decipher. Some organizations issue annual reports as well. These usually pull key data from Form 990 and highlight initiatives and results. For those who are overwhelmed by the numbers in the other forms, these reports can be an accessible way to read about a charity's activities.

4. Evaluate Results

You want to send your money to an organization that is going to get results, or at least make progress toward fulfilling its mission. Look for indicators of measurable success such as how many clients a charity serves or how many hours of work it oversees that are directly related to its cause.

5. Speak to a Representative or Volunteer for the Charity

Smaller charities may not have a comprehensive website or glossy annual report to review. However, they should have someone available to talk with you about their mission and how they will use your money. Volunteering for a charity is another way to learn about its effectiveness. If an organization isn't well run, that will quickly become apparent to you as a volunteer.

Read the full article here:

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