How to Find a Charity Worthy of Your Donation

Make Charitable Giving an Investment, Not a Guess

Donating time or money to charitable causes is an important part of many Americans’ lives. Giving allows us to help organizations that positively impact the world, it gives us a feel-good factor, and in some cases it can provide us with benefits come tax time.

But with well over a million IRS-registered charities in the U.S., giving can be a confusing and sometimes frustrating process.

We all want to give to charities that will use our time or money on projects and programs that will make a real difference in the world. However, it’s not always easy to tell which charities are doing the best work.

Fortunately, there are a number of resources available to help donors make informed decisions about their giving.

Informed Giving Is Effective Giving

We all want to feel like the time and money we donate to charities is making a real difference and improving lives. 

Think of your charitable giving as an investment in creating a better world. You wouldn’t invest in a company if you didn’t have confidence in that company’s ability to create value. Using these resources, you can give yourself similar confidence that the charities you give to will create value of a different kind.


GiveWell vets charities for impact so you don't have to.

If you are interested in giving to a charity working in the field of international aid and global health, GiveWell is an excellent resource. GiveWell is dedicated to finding outstanding giving opportunities and publishing the full details of their analysis to help donors decide where to give. They recommend just a few charities that they deem highly effective and likely to benefit from additional funding. More


Philanthropedia logo.

Philanthropedia crowdsources research on nonprofits by surveying experts like foundation professionals, researchers, and nonprofit senior staff. Using the advice of these experts, Philanthropedia has created lists of recommended charities working on a variety of international, national, and local causes, including international disaster relief, arts and culture, violence against women, and climate change. 


Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator
Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator has rated 6,000 of America’s largest charities in terms of financial health and accountability and transparency. Use their searchable database to find a nonprofit that matches your passion, or browse their top ten lists or their list of 4-star rated charities to get a sense of what’s out there. New ratings are added each month, so check back if you don’t find what you’re looking for right away. More


CharityWatch logo.

CharityWatch is a project of the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) that grades charities on their effectiveness. The criteria used to determine a charity’s grade include what portion of total expenses is spent on charitable programs, how much is spent to raise each $100 of funds collected, and how long a charity with large reserves of available assets could continue to operate at current levels without any additional fundraising. CharityWatch also publishes a periodical, the Charity Rating Guide & Watchdog Report. More

Universal Giving

Universal Giving logo.

Universal Giving connects people to volunteer and giving opportunities worldwide by ranking charities according to a trademarked Quality Model that includes Patriot Act compliance, financial vetting, management review, nonprofit status verification, and several other criteria. Universal Giving allows you to sort volunteer and giving opportunities by continent or by type of project, which makes it easy to focus your giving on a particular cause or a particular part of the world. More

Bright Funds

Bright Funds logo.

Bright Funds has used data from all of the above resources to build high-impact funds of nonprofits working in six target areas: the environment, education, water, poverty, health, and human rights. Bright Funds makes it easy to support the most effective organizations focused on the issues that matter most to you.

The design of your portfolio is fully customizable—for example, you could put 40% of your portfolio in water, 30% in education, 20% in health, and so on. And if you want to add a charity, not in Bright Funds’ pre-built funds to your portfolio, you can add any 501c3 registered nonprofit in the United States. The single platform for giving to multiple charities also allows you to get a single tax report for all your donations. More