Research before you give this holiday season

On average, the typical household donates nearly $3,000 every year

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – For many people this is the season to give back to charities and non-profits, but do you really know where your money is going?

Online donations make giving easier than ever before but that also means it’s even more important to know who you are giving to.

“It’s not just about giving thanks, it’s not just about getting things but also about giving to others,” said Brittany Miller, Marketing and Communications Coordinator at the Ronald McDonald House of the Miami Valley.

There are thousands of charities and non-profits around the world that rely on your donations to run such as the Ronald McDonald House of the Miami Valley.

“There are families who have children in the hospital even during the holidays,” said Miller.

This house is a place for families to stay during that time and all money raised goes back into keeping it open and the lights on, but not all non-profits are using your money like you might think.

“It kind of spoils the pot for the rest of the organizations,” said Miller

Charity Navigator is an online site that can help you decide who to give to. This site rates and compares charities based on their financial health, accountability and transparency and if that organization is actually doing something productive with the money received. They get a lot of this information from a non-profit’s tax form called the 990.

“See what that money is going to, see what their impact was for the year before,” said Miller.

On average, the typical household donates nearly $3,000 every year according to Charity Navigator. So before you break out that checkbook, they suggest doing your research.

They have 4 questions you should be asking this year:

  1. Did your charity get lost in the election funding because people were donating to campaigns instead?
  2. Does the charity match your passion?
  3. Is it fiscally responsible and ethical?
  4. Do you trust it enough to give to the broad organization…not to just a specific project?

Those at Ronald McDonald House say giving locally usually makes it easier to answer all of those questions.

“That money is going into your community and if you keep your money into your community you are serving families that could be somebody that you know or it could be even you,” said Miller.

To research your charity or non-profit of choice try these sites: