Do You Know Where Your Donations Are Going?

There is a common vein in most people that draws them toward wanting to help others in their time of need.  When tragedy happens, people want to give whatever they can to help fellow humans when they can.  The same goes for long-standing tragedies such as overwhelming poverty, disease, famine, and water shortages around the world.  In their hurry to help people, many will give their money to the first organization they find that purports to support that cause.  The bad thing, however, is that these organizations can sometimes be completely unaffiliated with the cause they say they represent.  This is a sad truth of the world that requires donors to look into the background of each charity they consider supporting.


Image courtesy of winond /

First, it’s important to find out if the charity has a long-standing history of working within that cause.  For example, does it have a long history of providing relief like the UNICEF charity or has it only recently been started?  Of course, there are many charities that are relatively new and that don’t have the history of UNICEF.  The fact that they’re new doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not worthwhile.  It just means that donors should take an extra layer of precaution and do some research on the charity before giving any money away.

Next, it’s also very important to know where the money is going to be going once it’s given.  Of course, most charities will openly tell you where the money will be spent but they may not be so forthcoming about “where” it’s going to be spent.  This isn’t because they’re trying to hide something.  It’s because they may have many different operations going on at any one time, making it difficult to always say outright what the money is going toward.  However, most reasonable charities are more than willing to accommodate a request from a donor to know where his or her money is going.

It’s important for people to be willing to help each other out when times get tough.  While this is true, it’s also important for people to realize that not all charities are the same.  Some people are more than willing to create a fake charity to take advantage of national sympathies and bilk people out of their hard-earned money.  Taking some time to thoroughly research a charity before giving it money is the safest route to take.

Do you have a favorite charity?

About Allie S.

Allie is a veteran special educator and school administrator with over fourteen years in the field. She has been responsible for the development of special education programs for students with a variety of disabilities and is a trusted resource for teachers as they struggle to educate the most challenging students. In addition, she has worked tirelessly as an advocate for both disabled students and their parents and hopes that the information she shares on this blog will continue to reach parents in need of support.


  1. To be honest, I don’t donate to big charities because of that exact reason. I don’t know where my money goes. Instead, we volunteer & donate in our own community. We donate to the local food band and participate in town clean-ups where we pick up litter.
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  2. I donate to the local food banks and charities. I’m leery of the big box charities because so much of the money doesn’t actually go toward the end goal.
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  3. I don’t donate to big things. I do smaller charities and I must see the work they do and it has to be evident that the money is going to a good place. Volunteering at big charities is something I will do but give money I am skeptical
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  4. It’s sad that this even has to be a post but it’s SO true! I’d much rather donate personally to a family in need or to a small business or cause if I’m not 100% sure of the charity and where the money goes. This is a great thing for people to remember – make sure your money actually goes where you want it to!

  5. This is a great post and the awareness is definitely needed. I have friends who have family in Haiti still affected by the earthquake years later. I donate with my church locally and we also ship supplies to states/countries when needed.
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  6. I have a few charities that I like that care for orphans. As an adoptive mom of 4, I have a heart for children who may never know the love of a family! I also like to leave surprise anonymous care packages for families that I know are struggling financially.
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  7. I’ve found it interesting to see the breakdown of how much of donations actually go towards the actual cause and what goes to other things. I tend to help local charities instead.

  8. I try to donate to St Judes as much as possible. I always wonder how much they really get of it.
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  9. My daughter works for a charity so I’ve learned a lot. She has an extraordinarily high percentage of money that goes to the causes and very little to administrative. That’s usually the first thing I look for.
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  10. I love this! I’m actually putting up a post tomorrow about Relay for Life. I’m including a breakdown of “where your dollar goes” because I think it’s a major reason why people don’t donate!
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  11. I hate to admit this but sometimes I can be cynical of random donations. I always like to make sure it’s a well known charity. I like Friends of Kids with Cancer.

  12. I like to donate to local organizations. I also prefer to do hands on volunteering in the community whether it be the animals shelters or children’s hospital.
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  13. i always research. to be honest, we have very few charities we donate to. we give at church, to the missions, support local causes, and support things that have impacted our family.

  14. It really is important to know where your money is going. And other things can be donated besides money, such as time and particular (relevant) skills, when they are needed. Every little bit to help, but best to know exactly where, who, and how you’re helping when you contribute. Good post!
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  15. This post is very helpful. Thanks you! I don’t typically donate unless it’s to the Red Cross or a local organization where I literally write the check out to them.
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  16. We try to donate locally as much as we can. We also donate our time, when possible. It’s sad that some people/organizations try to take advantage.
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  17. I have a hard time giving to random charities because after working in payroll, I know that most of those big charities give their presidents and higher ups gigantic salaries and bonuses every year. The only charities I give to on a regular basis are St Judes, Salvation Army and the Vietnam Veterans Association.
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  18. This is always a concern of mine – not knowing where my money is going to. Honestly, I only give to a few charities that I know for a fact use the money the way they claim to.
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  19. SAME here. I always try to ask where the funds are going, or do the research myself before committing. There are so many awful charities taking money or busy suing people that have a similar mission statement. (ahem… susan g. komen)
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  20. It would be a shame to donate to something you really believed in only to find out that the money wasn’t actually going where you hoped it would. I’m all for local charities & organizations so I’m helping out in the community I’m a part of.
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  21. I’ll be the first to admit, I don’t donate sometimes because I don’t know where my money is going or what they are doing with it. It’s a sad world we live in that we have to worry about that.

  22. I actually always worry about this. I try to donate only to the “big name” donations because of that.
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  23. I like to keep my money local. I think I can make a bigger impact with the local food banks and non profit animal shelters.
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  24. Great post.. There was a radio show in Tampa that would discuss big charities and how only a small percentage was really being used for the cause..
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  25. We do more local giving for that very reason! I don’t really trust the big organizations to handle money in a way that is consistent with their intentions, even if a majority of the money donated goes toward the cause. There’s just so much waste. I live to be a part of the giving process as much as possible, so that my daughter gets the full effect, too.

  26. I do have a few charities I like. It’s a shame some people set up fake charities just to take your money. Good that there’s sites where you can check to see if a charity is real or not.
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  27. I used to donate time and money to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I believe in their mission. Lately, though, I donate to the annual fund for the private university I work at (and attended.) On any given day, I can see where my money is actually going.
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  28. It’s so important to make sure you’re donating your time, energy, resources or money to a reputable charity.

  29. This is why I don’t donate to certain charities. If I give money I need to know that the money or the items are going to help those the charity is supposed to be helping and not going to the CEO’s multimillion dollar salary!
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  30. Great points! I’m leery about donating to some charities. I feel like sometimes a large portion of donations might go to the CEO’s and chairs. Always a good idea to research!
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  31. I’ve always done a lot of research on the groups that I donate to. I want to know that my dollars are going to have an impact on the cause I’m choosing to support. It’s why I often give to smaller organizations that I can visually see the dollars in action, or donate my time instead.
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