When you donate to charities around the holidays, where does the money go? That crosses my mind every time I donate to a charity, and maybe your's too.

More often than not, I donate to animal-based charities like Petsmart Charities. Conversely, the SPCA International based in New York, N.Y. were low rated by the watchdogs. Those watchdogs are the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Watchdogs Charity Navigator and Charity Watch. I never knew those watchdogs even existed.

About 20% of giving to charities takes place over the holidays. I admit that I wasn't as diligent about knowing where my donation was going as I should have been.

Consumer Reports reviews charities and does a great job of filtering the good and bad so you will know just who you are donating too before you write that check you commit too on a telethon.

I've heard a lot of numbers talked about when you are checking out a charity. As an example of a not so good charity, in my opinion, is the Connecticut-based National Veteran Services Fund. They devoted less than one-third of the $8.6 million it spent in fiscal 2015 on its charitable programs and nearly 69 percent to fundraising.

Conversely, the National Military Family Association, based in Alexandria, Va, spent 82 percent of its $5.2 million in total spending on its charitable program and less than 13 percent on fundraising, according to its form 900. The charity you donate too should spend at least 65 percent of their total expenses on their charitable missions and no more than 35 percent of their contributions to fundraising.

Generally speaking, the charitable organization should be keeping the amount of money they spend on fundraising as low as possible and spend as much as possible on the mission of their charity. Some of the highly rated and low rated charities by Consumer Reports

I think the safest tack to take is to keep your donations local whenever possible.


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