As the holiday season approaches, many of us begin to think about giving - giving gifts for religious holidays, giving time to help others during the holiday season, making charitable contributions, and perhaps planning future gifts as part of a corporate or personal budgeting process. At Inovatia we spend the entire year focusing on customer projects breaking down products, materials, and processes to make them "er" - that is, we make them better, faster, stronger, higher, louder, etc., - "er". Similar resources exist to break down the activities of the charities you you may be interested in supporting this year. Organizations such as Charity Navigator, The American Institute of Philanthropy, and the Better Business Bureau can help you evaluate the organizations you intend to support with your dollar by providing information such as administrative overhead expense, executive compensation, and marketing / advertising expense (at Inovatia this GL item is known as Schwag/Chotchkie Expense). Even the United States Postal Service's inspection group can help. It will provide information on known, fraudulent solicitations being made through the mail.
A great mission is only the start to making a great charity - how that mission is put into action is what makes it worthy of support. Following are links to resources that will help you "Reverse Engineer" the organizations you may be interested in supporting.
Charity Navigator http://www.charitynavigator.org/
American Institute of Philanthropy (a.k.a Charity Watch) http://www.charitywatch.org/
Better Business Bureau (give.org) http://www.bbb.org/us/charity/
National Association of State Charity Officials http://www.nasconet.org/agencies
Additional resources may be found on GiveSpot http://www.givespot.com/