Notes to Know: 5 Actionable Ways to Vet a Charity

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

"If I'd have had more time, I'd have written a shorter letter" ~Blaise Pascal

This timely article comes from Raymond James Charitable, Powerful Giving, a newsletter published for Spring 2020. A direct link to the full article can be found here.

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has changed our lives, the way we work, live and interact with one another. We are keeping our distance all around the world in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, but we are also pulling together in ways the world has never seen.

Philanthropy’s response to the pandemic has also been unprecedented. According to Candid and the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, organizations that track and support philanthropy, as of late April over $3.1 billion in support has been issued to individuals, small businesses, researchers, and many others affected by the health crisis. Raymond James Charitable has also seen an increase in giving and while we would like to believe that all nonprofits are helping change the world for the better, it’s essential to research the organization you want to support. Their recent article offers the following information to help you make the most of your charitable dollars by supporting trustworthy organizations:

  • Research the charity’s history; how long have they been around? What type of supporters do they have? What are their funding sources? You can learn more about their reputation by looking up news stories to see how they’ve been portrayed in the media.

  • Visit their website and social media. Explore what other people are saying about them what they’ve accomplished and the impact they’ve had.

  • Check their credibility using sources like CharityWatch, GiveWell, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator. You can also rely on Candid to find financial statements and other important details.

  • Look for independent audit reports. This is an examination of the financial records, accounts, business transactions, accounting practices, and internal controls by an independent auditor (an auditor not employed by the charity).

  • Avoid automatically dismissing charities with a high overhead, like the cost of staffing, marketing, and fundraising. A TED Talk by AIDSRide founder Dan Pallotta pointed out that charities with high overhead can sometimes fulfill their mission even more effectively because they have more resources to invest in talent, new ideas, and strategies to maximize their impact.

We hope this information is helpful as you seek the best charities to support and make your charitable contributions as meaningful as possible to you and your family. To learn more about the charitable response to COVID-19, including the steps funders are taking, visit

Make it a great day!

The information contained within is the view and opinion of the author as of the date it was written, and not necessarily of Cascade Financial Management, Inc. Such views are subject to change without notice. Cascade has no duty or obligation to update the information contained herein.

This is for educational purposes only and should not be used for any other purpose. It is not intended as planning or tax advice for any individual or entity. It does not constitute and should not be construed as an offering of advice or an offer to sell, or a solicitation to buy any services or related financial instruments or advice of any kind. Your tax and financial situation are unique and you should not take any action or make any investment decision without first discussing your particular situation with your CPA, tax, or legal advisor.

Certain information contained herein concerning economic trends and performance is based on or derived from information provided by independent third-party sources. Cascade believes the sources from where this information has been obtained are reliable, however, it cannot guarantee the accuracy of such information and has not independently verified the accuracy or completeness of such information or the assumptions on which such information is based.

Any distribution, use, or copying of this information by anyone other than the intended recipient is unauthorized.

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