What Makes a Charity “Reliable”?

“Scientifically proven!”. “Guaranteed 20 pounds down in 30 days!”. “Most reliable____!”. “Best quality!”. “Unmatched performance!”. We’re bombarded every day with claims of being the best. How do we know if we’re being told the truth?

“Tastes like a crappy cup of coffee.”

When claims don’t hold up, we’re disillusioned and left more suspicious than before. Honestly, we feel duped.

Particularly in the world of charity, you shouldn’t have to feel like you’re taking a chance when you give. In fact, there are ways to make sure that the claims made by certain organizations are backed up by tangible proof of their activities.

We talk a lot about how we’ll direct you to reliable charities on POINT app. I wanted to chat a little about what exactly that means. It sounds great- but what actually makes one charity more “reliable” than others?

Sources are verified

There are other sources that have asked this question as well. Perhaps one of the most thorough is Charitynavigator.org, and it is frequently one that we at POINT reference as part of our evaluation process when determining what charities we trust enough to recommend to you, so I will use their process as an example.

They evaluate publicly funded (at least 50% of total $100,000 revenue must come from individual donors to be included on the website) and well established (at least 7 years of filing the necessary tax forms) organizations, so it is worth noting that newer and smaller (local) organizations may be absent from their specific list, even if they are doing good work. They then rate these organizations based on designated performance metrics and results.

Charity Navigator has divided the charity metrics into two distinct segments: Financial, and Accountability & Transparency. Financial performance metrics evaluate how much of the money an organization receives goes towards the goods and/or services it claims to provide. It also looks at things like fundraising efficiency. They look at where the revenue comes from (who is giving the money) and where it is going (what the revenue is spent on) including salaries of the top staffers.

Accountability and Transparency metrics are more focused on addressing the presence or absence of information and policies that hold the organization accountable to it’s donors regarding business practices.

You decide

All of these details come together to form a broader picture of how trustworthy an organization is, and when you throw results in the mix (whether what a charity is doing actually WORKS), you can start to feel confident that your money will be put to the best possible use. These are all the bits and pieces we think about before recommending a charity to you, so you can feel secure that if you give to something through POINT it will be a good decision.

What do you believe about charity?

*Now, if this post was interesting to you, I’m going to encourage you to check out something. I love TED Talks (our CEO gave one, too!) and this one about how we think about charity really got my wheels turning. I would love to hear your thoughts on it, so after you watch the video, send me a tweet @Grainger_danger telling me your reaction to it!

To giving with confidence,

Sarah Grainger
Blog Contributor


No guilt trips, no sad stories. Just a chance to do something good.