General Question

LDRSHIP's avatar

How are charities and donations tracked?

Asked by LDRSHIP (1088 points ) December 2nd, 2013

I always see and have myself donated on occasion a dollar, food cans or something to places.

Then I had a thought who keeps tracks of all this stuff? How are the kids in Africa or shelters in the states that you said that would be getting the money and food doing?

Can I get an update? How do I even know it is making a difference or impact?

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7 Answers

YARNLADY's avatar

Check the charity reference sites and find out. Even better, for local donations, volunteer to work with the organaziation.

dabbler's avatar

Each of them keeps track themselves. I don’t think there is a central clearing house for information about deliveries or impact.

There is information about how much of some charity’s budget is spent on administrative costs (all the people who get a paycheck from them). Most charities will tell you things like that about themselves.

There are a couple sites like Charity Watch and Charity Navigator and Charity Choices that show charity performance by various criteria but from what I can tell they are far from comprehensive, the little charities are seldom covered on those.

jaytkay's avatar

One way is their IRS filings.

In the US, a charity organization has to apply to the IRS for status as a non-profit (or else they will be considered a business and pay taxes).

Then, instead of filing a 1040 like a business, each year they file IRS form Form 990 to report finances.

Smitha's avatar

You can check websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar to find out if the charity is legitimate. To make sure that your donation ends up at the charity, go to the non-profit’s website and check information as the mission of the charity, the most recent annual report from the charity, and information about the management of the charity, then donate directly to the non-profit online. You can even call the charity and get their address and then support them by mailing the check directly.

LDRSHIP's avatar

You guys are probably know more about these websites since you linked them to me, where exactly do I find their result reports?

Seek's avatar

Bear in mind that religious charities like the Salvation Army do not have to file reports with the IRS. So no one knows where your money goes.

Smitha's avatar

@LDRSHIP You can go to Charity Navigator and check if your charity is listed there. For example if you donated to American Red Cross then search for that and you will get a detailed report like this. Well-run charitable organizations release their financial information and you can always contact them and ask them how they utilize the funds and how the donations make an impact on their mission.

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