How to do the most good with your donated dollars

Charities differ in how much actually goes to their mission

SAN ANTONIO – It’s the season for giving, and with so many people impacted by COVID-19, the demand for help is great. Before you open your heart and wallet, there are some ways to maximize your contribution.

Across the country, charities have been slammed.

“There’s people coming in nice cars, not so nice cars -- people walking. We don’t judge a book by its cover,” said Matt Gullotta, with the Gullotta House in New York. “We all have bad days. We are all going through something.”

If you’d like to help your community, organization are ready to put your energy or money to use. But Consumer Reports says there are some things to consider.

“Charities differ a lot in how much of the money they raise goes for programs instead of covering the expense of raising money,” said Margot Gillman, Consumer Reports’ editor. “Effective charities devote much more of their operating budget to the services they provide than to their other expenditures, like salaries and marketing costs.”

You can research charities and see which ones meet those benchmarks on or the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Checking the charity’s own website can give you more information about its mission, a list of its board of directors and its latest financial reports.

“If the charity site doesn’t list its financial details online, the organization is not very transparent, which could be a red flag,” Gillman said.

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