Giving Tuesday -- Give With Your Heart and Your Brain

I love Thanksgiving. I love thanks and I love giving. Skip over four days of crazy consumerism (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Sunday--no name has been thought up for this yet--, and Cyber Monday), and we are at a day now called "Giving Tuesday."

The idea of Giving Tuesday is that it's a day when you give money to charities near and far. Since Giving Tuesday really kicks off a season of year-end giving, I wanted to make sure you know about Charity Navigator. This time of year you will undoubtedly receive dozens of emails and letters asking for you to consider a generous year-end donation to their cause. So how do you decide which charities will receive your hard-earned money?

Whenever we plan to make a substantial purchase of any kind we like to do our research. I look up reviews, ask if others have experience with the product, etc. I know many of you do too. Charity Navigator is a great tool to help you do the same kind of research when it comes to giving. It tells you how the organization spends the money it receives: how much is spent on overhead, advertising, staffing, etc.; and how much is going to the people or projects that you intended to receive your money. Here's what they do in a nutshell:

We rate charities by evaluating two broad areas of performance; their Financial Health and their Accountability & Transparency. Our ratings show givers how efficiently we believe a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to being accountable and transparent. In the not-too-distant future, we plan to also rate charities’ reporting of their results. We provide these ratings so that givers can make intelligent giving decisions, and so that the philanthropic community can more effectively monitor itself.

Have a charity that you love to give to? Just go to Charity Navigator and search the name and see how they rate. I love that you can scroll to the bottom and it even compares the charity to others who are doing similar work. You may find a new organization that is doing the kind of work you like, in a more efficient manor. For example: you may find you'd rather support the Cancer Research Institute which uses 83.2% of it's funding on cancer immunology research worldwide, rather than the American Cancer Society who only uses 59.5% of it's funding on actual research. I bet you didn't know that almost half of what you thought you donated to cancer research, actually went to pay for something else, did you? It pays to do your own research before giving your money away, my friends.

 In any case it's great to see how many organizations are striving to meet a specific need.

We continue to support the charities below because of their transparency and the real impact they are having around the world. I hope if you are looking to give this December you will consider these worthy organizations! I'm including a brief description of each and their overall Charity Navigator score (which is given based on their financial and accountability/transparency scores).

 Compassion International

Compassion International exists as an advocate for children, releasing them from spiritual, economic, social and physical poverty and enabling them to become responsible, fulfilled Christian adults. Founded by Rev. Everett Swanson in 1952, Compassion began providing Korean War orphans with food, shelter, education and health care, as well as Christian training. Today, Compassion helps more than 1.4 million babies, children and students in 26 countries through a holistic program of Christ-based child development. Compassion work exclusively through Christian churches to implement its program.

You can sign up to sponsor a child on a monthly basis, or give a one-time gift to meet the needs of unsponsored kids around the globe.

Click here to give!

Charity Navigator Score: 95.30

International Justice Mission (IJM)

IJM exists to protect the poor from violence by rescuing victims, bringing the criminals to justice, restoring survivors to safety and strength, and helping local law enforcement build a safe future that lasts.

Charity Navigator Score: 94.45

Samaritan's Purse 

Samaritan's Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan's Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God's love through His Son, Jesus Christ.
Emergency relief meets desperate needs of victims worldwide. 

Operation Christmas Child delivers more than 8 million shoebox gifts to poor children in more than 100 countries each year. 

World Medical Mission sends doctors, equipment, and supplies to underprivileged countries. 

Community development and vocational programs in impoverished villages and neighborhoods help people break the cycle of poverty and give them hope for a better tomorrow. Vulnerable children are rescued, educated, fed, clothed, and sheltered, letting them know that God loves them, and they are not forgotten.

And Operation Heal Our Patriots brings rest and restoration to injured military members and their loved ones. 

You guys know I have a huge soft spot for Samaritan's Purse. Last year we got to help with their US disaster relief services, and this year year we got to work in the Operation Christmas Child distribution center. The center processed over 64,000 shoeboxes in one day to go to kids living in poverty around the world. The incredible organization and responsible use of funding impresses me every time we have the opportunity to work with this charity. With branches of this organization reaching children, the poor, the sick (read: Ebloa patients), agriculture projects, clean water, International and US disasters, and our military; there is something for everyone. 

Charity Navigator Score: 95.90

The Denver Rescue Mission

Founded in 1892, the Denver Rescue Mission provides food, clothing, shelter, transitional housing, and medical, educational, and rehabilitation programs free of charge. The Lawrence Street Shelter provides meals, food boxes, medical care, and clothing distribution, and shelters up to 300 men nightly. Champa House offers help toward self-sufficiency for single mothers and their dependent children. Harvest Farm in Wellington, Colorado is a long-term rehabilitation program for men. The Crossing offers a long-term rehabilitation program for men and transitional housing for homeless families and individuals. The Ministry Outreach Center distributes clothing, food boxes, household goods, and furniture. Family Services provides transitional housing, assistance for permanent housing, and mentoring for homeless working families, seniors, individuals, and refugees.

Click here to donate to the Denver Rescue Mission

Charity Navigator Score: 84.66

Sozo International

Sozo International formed in 2002, in response to the opportunity presented by the liberation of Afghanistan, shortly after September 11, 2001. Sozo International aims to reach the most impoverished people in identifiable communities where war and natural disaster have wreaked havoc. They provide emergency and ongoing relief for internally displaced people (IDP) and encourages development aimed at changing the day-to-day existence of people in need as well as providing hope for their future.

Click here to give to Sozo

Charity Navigator Score: 80.75*

*in spite of this score, note that 90% of funding goes to programming.

Not all charities are rated on Charity Navigator. Some are too new to have a long enough track record for CN to rate. The bottom line is be sure to ask for transparency from any organization you support.

We also love:

Mercy House Kenya --they opened a 2nd house this year!
Amazima Ministries --they're staring an academy!
Casas Por Cristo --they're expanding to the Dominican Republic!

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
                        -- Matthew 25:40

Thank you for the difference you are making in the world, my generous friends!

Happy Giving!!! 


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