There are so many fundraising organizations in the United States that it can be difficult to know how to choose between them, whether you want to donate money to them or work for them. However, there are many resources designed to help you choose which fundraising organizations are most worthy of your money and time.
Questions to ask
There are a few questions you should ask yourself (and the organization) before deciding whether or not to get involved with it.
- Do you approve of the organization's aims?
- Do you approve of the methods they use to raise money? For example, are they using tactics which you would consider aggressive, or are they spending too much money on fundraising?
- Does the organization make its budget public?
- Do you approve of the way the organization allocates its budget?
Obviously, if the answer to question three is 'no', it will be difficult for you to answer question four. However, organizations which do not make their budgets public are either breaking the law or not classed as charities for the public good, in which case your donation would probably be better spent elsewhere.
As for the issue of how they spend their money, many people are adamant that they do not want to donate money to organizations that spend too much on administration or on fundraising. However, think carefully before you dismiss a charity on these grounds. Ken Burnett, author of Relationship Fundraising , says: "I wouldn't be prepared to give any of my money to a nonprofit that didn't spend a sizable part of its income on administration. If the proper administrative machinery wasn't in place, how could the organization get anything done?" However, if a charity is spending more than 20% of its funds on administration, you should exercise caution.
Cancer fundraising organizations
Organizations raising money for cancer research and care are among the most numerous fundraising organizations in the United States. There are more than 650 organizations raising funds for breast cancer alone. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) provides a valuable resource to help you find out about cancer charities, in the form of a fact sheet entitled National Organizations That Offer Services to People With Cancer and Their Families. Click here to go to the online fact sheet. However, it is not a comprehensive listing of cancer charities, and inclusion of an organization does not imply that it is endorsed by the NCI. You should also remember that the fact sheet lists national organizations and not local ones.
Finding information about fundraising organizations
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance collects and distributes information about hundreds of nonprofits. Charities are selected for evaluation based on the number of enquiries about them from the public. Click here to go to the BBB website.
Charity Navigator aims to help individual givers decide on where to donate. Organizations included in the Charity Navigator directory are all tax-exempt. (See our page about the legalities of nonprofit fund raising for more information about tax.) Charities are rated according to organizational efficiency and organizational capacity. Click here to go to the Charity Navigator site.
Most charities are required by law to be registered by the state. You can check out a charity's legitimacy by contacting your Attorney General's office, although you should remember that charities of a religious nature are usually exempt from the requirement to register.
Working for a fundraising organization
The information on this page will help you to assess an organization's legitimacy before applying for a job there. For more information about careers in fundraising, see our page on fundraising jobs .