Today is Giving Tuesday. It was started as a way to balance the commercialism of Black Friday with a way to engage the nation in a national day of giving to the charities of your choice.

So how do you pick a charity? Here are a few questions to determine if your money is going to a reputable organization.

  1. Are they rated by these two nonprofit watchdogs?

 Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator

Guide star



2.  Do they have an IRS 990 on file?

A 990 is a form that nonprofits file for public record. Transparent nonprofits have these on their websites. If not, Charity Navigator and Guidestar will have them. If you can’t find them, let this be your first red flag.


  1. How much of each dollar goes to program versus overhead? There are some major nonprofits who spend very little of your dollar on actual program needs. The lower the % of overhead, the more you’re assured your dollar goes to helping people.

Caveat: For years, Charity Navigator and Guidestar have rated nonprofits based on a low overhead. Nonprofits had to bend to that measurement and argued there needs to be better measurements. As a result, the CEO’s from Charity Navigator, Guidestar and BBB Giving came out with a letter about The Overhead Myth.

My favorite charity is Outreach, Inc. I bought 25 million meals worth of ingredients and equipment to package meals for the hungry from them, then I joined their ranks two years ago. I travel frequently with the founders who refuse to pay more than $75 bucks for a hotel even in DC and drive a 2001 car. I can personally vouch for the frugal mentality of this amazing organization that has facilitated the packaging of over 260 million meals in the last ten years, help over 1,000 street children in Africa with meals and a school uniform so they can get an education, and have a 8,000 acre farm in Tanzania they are developing to help local smallholder farmers make a living. Yes, I’m unashamedly suggesting you choose them as your favorite charity. You can donate here:

For further reading about charity and the good reasons why your life would be more enjoyable if you got into charitable giving, I’d suggest these books to read:

The Life You Can Save; How to do Your Part to End World Poverty- by Australian philosopher Peter Singer

Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient, and Rewarding for All – by the amazing Robert Egger who is a personal hero

Forces for Good; The Six Practices of High-Impact Non Profits – Leslie Crutchfield and Heather Grant examine 12 nonprofits to determine best practices.

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