Giving wisely means choosing a charity that is registered with the California Attorney General's Office and is current with the reporting requirement. The American Institute of Philanthropy Website has excellent information on choosing charities.
Four other groups with different approaches to evaluating philanthropic organizations are included below:
Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org)
The biggest of the charity ratings groups, it looks at 5,500 organizations. Its current four-star system is based largely on financial criteria; a pending overhaul, expected to be launched in 2011, will add information on social effectiveness.
GiveWell offers detailed, equity research-like reports on nearly 400 nonprofits. It recommends just nine that pass its strict criteria.
GreatNonprofits, launched after Hurricane Katrina, gauges nonprofits through crowdsourcing. It allows clients, volunteers, and funders of nonprofits to post reviews based on their personal experiences.
GuideStar acts as a clearinghouse of information of nonprofits, with data from the Form 990 tax forms these groups must file as well as the reviews of GreatNonprofits.GuideStar acts as a clearinghouse of information of nonprofits, with data from the Form 990 tax forms these groups must file as well as the reviews of GreatNonprofits.
Another resourceful website: BBB Wise Giving Alliance (http://www.give.org/)
BBB Wise Giving Alliance is an association of charities formed by a merger of the National Charities Information Bureau (NCIB) and the Council of Better Business Bureaus' Foundation and its Philanthropic Advisory Service (PAS). It publishes a set of standards of accountability for charitable organizations and evaluations of national charities against those standards.