"Is it true that a good rule of thumb for all charities is that at least 80% ( 85% and up is even better* ) of all gifts should go directly to the cause and the remaining 15%* to 20% go for administrative costs , and etc.? "Ideally. Unfortunately the truth is far crueler. Contrary to their emotional appeals, charities, even good ones, differ greatly in the way they use donations once they receive them. A well-run charity should demonstrably spend a minimum of fifty percent of its money on actual program services, more if possible. But many spend far less than a third, with the rest going toward administrative, and so-called fundraising costs. Meaning...well, you know... the top guy gets rich and the supposed beneficiaries receive little or no benefit.If you really want to judge a charity's credentials before making a donation to them, ask these questions: is the organization registered with the State Attorney General? For another, has it filed Form 990 with the IRS, and is it listed in IRS Publication 78, the Cumulative List of Tax Exempt Organizations? You could also check it with the National Charities Information Bureau, and the American Institute of Philanthropy to see whether they're enjoying a good reputation with them.~aj
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