The Goods On Green Charities

How to track where your environmental charity money goes.
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How to track where your environmental charity money goes.

"Plant a tree!" "Build a trail!" "Save the manatees!" With so many charities and good causes out there, how can a philanthropic hiker like you—with ideals running deeper than your pockets—tell which ones are worthy of your hard-earned bucks? More importantly, what happens to those dollars after your check is cashed? Two comprehensive web sites answer such questions for those who want assurances that a high percentage of their donations goes to programs, not administrative costs.

With tax day on its way, now is the time many choose to round out their financial year with a (usually) tax-deductible donation to charity. If you're feeling philanthropic before paying Uncle Sam on April 15th, visit these web sites that evaluate charities to make sure your tax-deductible donation goes far:

GuideStar: www.guidestar.org

This huge database of more than 640,000 U.S. non-profits lets you check income and assets for several types of organizations, including some local grassroots groups.

National Charities Information Bureau (NCIB): www.give.org

Rate an organization using the NCIB's 9-point Wise Giving Guide. More detailed information is available with individual reports for 400 charities ($9.95 each). Also helpful is the Quick Reference Guide that lists which environmental organizations meet all of the NCIB's standards, which do not, and which records are being updated.