In this season of charitable giving, it’s important to ask a few questions to make sure your donated dollar really goes to the cause you’re supporting, experts say.
“A lot of scam charities seem to pop up this time of year,” often using a name that sounds like a well-known and reputable charity’s name, said Nick LaFleur, spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau of Southern Arizona. “You need to do some research before you give so you can make a wise giving choice.”
Two things you can check quickly are the percent of a charity’s total expenses going toward programs and the percent used for fundraising.
“You want your money going to the cause, not fundraising or bloated administration costs,” LaFleur said.
“It’s really important because there are a lot of really great charities that do really great work, but there are charities out there that aren’t spending donors’ money as effectively as they could be.”
The BBB standard says at least 65 percent of total expenses should go toward programs.
You can find this information using online tools include BBB Wise Giving (tucson.bbb.org/charity for local charities or bbb.org/charity for national ones), Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), and ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer (projects.propublica.org/nonprofits).
The Star used the BBB and ProPublica tools to find these three large, Tucson-based charities that put at least 95 percent of their total spending into programs.
Community Food Bank
of Southern Arizona
What it does — Provides food to thousands of needy people.
Reported revenue — $54.3 million in fiscal year 2012.
Percent of spending on programs — 97 percent.
Percent of spending on fundraising and administration — 3 percent.
Where to donate — communityfoodbank.com or 882-3296.
Old Pueblo Community
What it does — Provides transitional housing and counseling.
Reported revenue — $6.7 million in 2011.
Percent of spending on programs — 96 percent.
Percent of spending on fundraising and administration — 4 percent.
Where to donate — helptucson.org or 261-4141.
Portable Practical Educational Preparation
What it does — Job training and counseling for people in rural areas.
Reported revenue — $51.1 million in fiscal year 2011.
Percent of spending on programs — 95 percent.
Percent of spending on fundraising and administration — 5 percent.
Where to donate — ppep.org or 622-3553.