How to check out a charity before giving

Make sure your money is going to a reputable nonprofit

SAN ANTONIO – This time of year many of us get the urge to share our good fortune with others. We might drop a little cash in a donation bucket or write a check to our favorite charity.  

Before reaching for your wallet, it’s wise to do a little homework and check out the charity.

At the San Antonio Food Bank, every day the staff works to help feed hungry South Texans.

“Hunger doesn't know a holiday,” Eric Cooper, with the food bank, said. “It's a year-round issue for us at the San Antonio Food Bank."

Donors helped provide 74 million meals in 2016. The goal is 77 million in 2017.

Before giving it's also a good idea to see if the charity is the real deal or one that uses a name that sounds similar to a well-known nonprofit. 

Nonprofit watchdog groups such as Charity Navigator, Guidestar and Charity Watch rate nonprofit organizations on things like:

                1) Financial transparency

                2) How much is spent on professional fundraisers

                3) How much actually goes toward helping those the charity is supposed to benefit

It is not uncommon to get lots of requests for donations from charities we've given to in the past, and even some we never before knew existed.

It's also a good idea to go to the charity's website to see if it posts its financial information and audits.

The Texas Attorney General's Office also posts guidelines for giving to charities on its website.