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How to check out charity before giving

Make sure your money is going to reputable nonprofit

KSAT – This time of year many of us get the urge to share our good fortune with others. We might drop a little cash in a donation bucket or write a check to our favorite charity. 

Before reaching for your wallet, it’s wise to do a little homework and check out the charity.

The Texas Food Bank is a whirlwind of activity around the holidays. Volunteers pack of thousands of pounds of food for folks in need.

“Hunger doesn't know a holiday,” Eric Cooper, with the food bank, said. “It's a year-round issue for us at the San Antonio Food Bank."

Donors helped provide 74 million meals in 2016. The goal is 77 million in 2017.

Before giving it's also a good idea to see if the charity is the real deal or one that uses a name that sounds similar to a well-known nonprofit.

"There (are) a lot of wonderful watchdog organizations that look after nonprofits and rate them," Cooper said.

Groups like Charity Navigator, Guidestar and Charity Watch let you see how nonprofits spend donations before you give. Key things to look for are:

  • How much of the money taken in actually goes toward the charity's service.
  • How much it pays its top executives.
  • Whether the nonprofit uses professional fundraisers that often take a big cut of the donations raised for the organization.

It's also a good idea to go to the charity's website to see if it posts its financial information and audits.

The Texas Attorney General's Office also posts guidelines for giving to charities on its website.

A portion of this article was borrowed from KSAT.