…because I’m an economist and a mom–that’s why!

Performance-Based Giving

January 15th, 2010 . by economistmom


Over on Politics Daily, Donna Trussell reminds us that just because times of extreme tragedy (such as the devastation in Haiti) encourage people to donate in a hurry with no questions asked, doesn’t mean we can afford to waste our money.  It doesn’t take much time to check out the organizations that are not only reputable but also might maximize your “difference per donation buck.”  Donna explains how to “think before you plunk”:

Charity Navigator is a nonprofit that rates other nonprofits, with the self-described goal of serving as an “intelligent guide to giving.” The group is unaffiliated with any other charity in the world, and claims objectivity and independence.

Charities are rated on organizational efficiency and organizational capacity, answering questions such as: How effectively does a charity use the dollars it gets from donors? Does it overpay its CEO or staff? Does it spend more on fundraising than on its mission? Does it have the infrastructure to get things done? Is there anything unusual on the balance sheet?

In other words: Is the charity competent? And is it honest?

Donna highlights some of the organizations most likely to make the most difference per dollar in Haiti:

Charity Navigator has a whole page devoted to highly rated organizations providing relief to earthquake survivors in Haiti.

Doctors Without Borders is a 4-star charity. They’re already in Haiti, and, since the quake, have served over a thousand patients in tents they’ve set up.

Another 4-star charity, Partners in Health, is less famous than Doctors Without Borders, but is highly respected (and also highly efficient, using just 5 percent of its funds for overhead). Partners in Health has been in Haiti for years, and they are working hard now to save as many lives as they can in this medical catastrophe.

Please consider these 4-star charities too. Each one uses less than 2 percent of revenues for overhead:

Operation USA is sending medical aid.

Heart to Heart International is preparing a major response.

Direct Relief International is sending food and medicine to Haitian hospitals.

I also recommend the GlobalGiving Foundation, an online “giving marketplace” of sorts, through which you can donate to particular charities and particular projects.  GlobalGiving has set up their own relief fund for the Haiti earthquake, or you can direct your donation to the individual organizations working on the ground in Haiti, including Partners in Health mentioned above.

One Response to “Performance-Based Giving”

  1. comment number 1 by: IdahoSpud

    I am fond of Save the Children. They too get very high marks from your charity ranking organization.