TODAY

TODAY   |  December 10, 2013

How to find a charity for giving

It’s important to understand to whom and what you’re giving and Yahoo host and personal finance expert Farnoosh Torabi has tips to help you identify the right charity.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> it's the time of year when a lot of us donate to our favorite charities and get solicitations from a lot of others.

>> you need to do your homework to find out where that money is going and whether or not it's legit.

>> she is a personal finances expert and host of financially fit on yahoo!

>> good morning.

>> we're getting the mailings right now and phone calls right now. this is when they tend to ramp up the asks. when you identify the charity you think you want to give to, how do you know it's the right one for you.

>> a good question. first a few steps, make sure it is approved by the irs. go to a great website. they have all of the background checks on these organizations to make sure they're tax-exempt and then make sure that it's a sound charity. that the money it collects a good portion of it actually goes to the mission, to the services and to the programs that it promises. 75% or more for every dollar is a good benchmark.

>> you do this, due diligence, once you do this and all the charities there are out there, thousands of them. which ones do you find or have you found that are really pretty good.

>> so a set back to really vet these charities, you want to go online and use the power of the internet. so sites, charity navigator , the bbb, the better business bureau . charity watch.org. all of these sites really vet these charities so that you can get a really good comprehensive understanding of where is the money going? is this a legitimate charity. the ones we found that got a plus ratings, four stars and bbb accreditation including the boys and girls club of america . it's a national organization with local chapters helping boys and girls find safe and productive places to be after school.

>> great organization.

>> right. safe the children. another children's organization. international has locations in over 100 countries and their mission is to really help children and their families in times of crisis. so giving them food and aid and education literacy when poverty strikes or disaster.

>> there's a couple of others.

>> international rescue committee . an international organization . their mission is to help people like refugees that have to escape their homeland. anyone stricken with poverty who has a crisis after a hurricane or earthquake and over 90% of every dollar that they receive actually goes to those missions.

>> earth works is another one. this is an environmental organization . they are dedicated to clean water , corporate accountability and healthy communities. and the last one we all know is the michael j. fox foundation for parkinson's research. they have been around for over ten years. they raised close to $115 million toward parkinson's research and, again, 90 cents or more per dollar toward the foundation.

>> how do you know that $90 cents per dollar? do they advertise? are they saying we donate 90% of the funds to the actual cause?

>> the charities should be transparent about how their money gets allocated. i check out all of these websites. there's a link you can go and find it. if you can't find it right away, charity navigator .org is a great site that will let you search for the charity and tell you right away how much goes per dollar.

>> and save your receipts for your tax reduction.

>> you want to make money. this is a great cost