How to Safely Donate to Charity

There are so many charitable organizations and nonprofits that it can seem impossible to figure out which ones are worthy of donations. Will your dollars go straight to people in need, or to administrative costs? Can you safely donate to charity online?

One website that helps donors answer those questions is Charity Navigator. Founded in 2001, Charity Navigator says it's "the nation's largest and most-utilized evaluator of charities." 

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Charity Navigator's rating system analyzes two broad areas of a charity's performance: Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency.

Many people in the charity and nonprofit sector recommend donating directly to a specific charity via that organization's website.

But if you're donating to several different charities or simply looking for a one-stop shop to donate online, Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing and CFO of Charity Navigator, recommends Network for Good.

Founded in 2001 by AOL, Cisco and Yahoo!, Network for Good is a "nonprofit that makes it easy for donors to support any charity, anywhere online and that helps nonprofits raise funds for their missions through simple, affordable and effective online fundraising services, including donation processing and email outreach tools," according to its website.

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