Ask Clark: How Can I Make Sure That My Charitable Donations Are Being Used for Their Intended Purposes?

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Welcome to Ask Clark, a column designed to answer your financial questions by money expert Clark Howard.

How Can I Make Sure My Charitable Donations Are Being Used As Intended?

Tanner from Georgia: “How can I make sure that my charitable donations are being used for their intended purpose?”

Clark’s Take on How You Can Be Sure Your Charitable Dollars Are Being Used As You Intend

Clark says: “There are a lot of sleazoids that come out of the woodwork that are fake charities or those that do a terrible job with the money you donate. They sound like great causes but really scarf up massive amounts of money for fundraising overhead or administrative overhead, not for service delivery, so your question is really timely.

“There are three go-to guides for national charities, where you can see essentially who is legit and who spends the money that you give efficiently,” says Clark.

These are the sites Clark points to:


Want to learn more? Here is how to choose the best charities for your donations.

For local charities, Clark says that it’s harder for you to know if the organization is efficient and whether it’s on the up-and-up.

Here’s how Clark says he chooses local charities he wants to donate to: “Give to organizations that you’ve volunteered at, that you have semi-insider information on — the work they do and how well they do it — organizations that you’ve been connected to in some way, an organization you’re a member of, as an example, that does good work.”

Finally, Clark warns that if you can’t find any third-party references for an organization, you need to be cautious “because you’re too likely to give your money to people who don’t spend your money well or could be out-and-out crooks.”

Looking for a safe way to donate? Christmas Kids has gone virtual for our 30th year. We need you now more than ever to ensure that each foster child in the state of Georgia has a gift on Christmas day. Help us make a child’s wish come true by shopping for a child now.


To hear Clark’s answer on this question and many more, listen to the full podcast episode here:  

Do you have a question for Clark? Use this form to ask him! And remember that you can listen to the Clark Howard Podcast at any time here.

If you have a question but you don’t want to go on-air, contact Clark’s Consumer Action Center for free money help.

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