American Institute of Philanthropy
Before making your next charitable donation, visit this Web site to see how far your dollars will actually go. The American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) reviews more than 500 national charities, perusing their financial statements and other documents to determine whether they’re effective, ethical, and cost-conscious. Organizations that spend at least 75 percent of their funds on program costs (as opposed to marketing and fundraising) get top grades. While grades for several charities are available online, a paid membership is required to obtain a subscription to the AIP’s full hardcopy report. The organization also offers news and advice on donating—just click over to the Articles page.

Charity Navigator
Before committing their hard-earned dollars to charity, savvy donors stop by Charity Navigator, which evaluates the financial health of more than 5,000 charities using a 4-star rating system. Each organization is evaluated in seven performance categories and results are presented in a user-friendly format with clear, colorful graphs. Visitors can register for free to create their own charity portfolio, do side-by-side comparisons of charities, and receive the organization’s monthly newsletter. In addition to individual charity profiles, Charity Navigator publishes several no-holds-barred Top Ten Lists on its Home Page such as “10 Charities Stockpiling Your Money” and “10 Charities in Deep Financial Trouble.” 

Designed with the busy philanthropist in mind, GuideStar offers an easy-to-use database bursting with crucial information about 1.5 million nonprofits—from the organization’s mission to its financial data to its tax-exempt status. GuideStar offers three different subscription levels, from a free membership for simple searches to Select and Premium levels, which allow more sophisticated searches and offer profiles with a bit more meat. GuideStar is a great way for nonprofit organizations to gain visibility. Nonprofits can register with GuideStar, link their Web site to their GuideStar report, and advertise in GuideStar’s classifieds—all free of charge. 

For those who want to make a positive impact in the world but aren’t sure where to start, this Web site is just the place. Promoting “action without borders,” Idealist.org lists more than 58,000 nonprofit and community organizations worldwide that focus on the arts, environmental protection, human rights, education, animal welfare, women’s issues, and more. Visitors can search for a volunteer opportunity, internship, job, or local events, and can connect with people around the world who share their interests. Visit the site’s Image Gallery to peruse photos of both individual members and volunteer groups, complete with descriptions, personal statements, and e-mail links.


Network for Good 
At Network for Good, visitors can donate to any of more than 1 million charities online, in a snap. Users can even set up automatic monthly, quarterly, or annual donations, and can create a Favorite Charities list to track their donations online. Always topical, the site’s Crisis Relief page displays a list of current world crises, with overviews and links to relevant nonprofits. The site also features more general content, such as advice on donating and volunteering, links to volunteer opportunities, and a special kid’s page. 

Non-Governmental Organizations Research Guide
Around the world, scores of UN-affiliated nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are working to reduce human suffering and protect the planet. This online guide, compiled by Duke University, lists the major NGOs working in three key areas - environmentally sustainable community development, human rights, and women’s issues - and includes links to their Web sites. You won’t find any bells or whistles on this very basic site, but you will find what you need, as NGOs are searchable by name, issue area, or geographic region.

Non-Profit Organization Locator
Need some local altruism? Enter your Zip Code and you'll find good causes right on your doorstep.