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Charity Selections

The following is a tiered list of what we consider the top charities. While there are as many ways to evaluate charities as there are charities to evaluate, the charities below were evaluated based on several criteria we have selected. Each criteria was given a certain weight that ultimately contributed to a score out of 1,000 (indicated as "___/1,000" in parentheses following each charity listed below).
  • Program Percentage (40%): the percentage of the charity's cash budget it spends on programs relative to its overhead. (less is better)
  • Cost to Raise Funds (25%): how much the charity has to spend to raise 1 USD. (less is better)
  • Degree of Government Funding (5%): the percentage of a charity's cash revenue received from government sources. (less is better)
  • Transparency (10%): does the charity post a complete copy of its most current, independent audited financial statements on its public web site? (yes or no)
  • Governance (15%): does the charity have certain policies in place and a sufficiently large and independent governing body, among other factors? (yes or no)
  • Donor Privacy (5%): does the charity have a privacy policy that applies to the collection of donor information, and if so, how robust is the policy? (less sharing is better)


Tier I Charities

These charities spend an exceptionally high percentage (93%+) of their cash budged on programs with minimal overhead. In addition, these charities historically spend very little money in the process of raising funds (typically less than $5 to raise $100), and generally receive less than 25% of their cash revenue from government sources. Finally, these charities always meet certain transparency and governance metrics, while normally providing a very high degree of donor privacy.
  • Conservation Fund (Environment) (990/1,000)
  • Scholarship America (Youth Development) (984/1,000)
  • American Kidney Fund (Health - General) (960/1,000)
  • National Council on Aging (Senior Citizens) (928/1,000)
  • All Hands Volunteers (International Relief & Development) (922/1,000)


Tier II Charities

These charities spend a very high percentage (88%+) of their cash budged on programs with minimal overhead. In addition, these charities historically spend very little money in the process of raising funds (typically less than $8 to raise $100), and generally receive less than 25% of their cash revenue from government sources. Finally, these charities always meet certain transparency and governance metrics, while normally providing a high degree of donor privacy.
  • Animal Welfare Institute (Animal & Animal Protection) (910/1,000)
  • National Alliance to End Homelessness (Homelessness & Housing) (910/1,000)
  • Unbound (International Relief & Development) (906/1,000)
  • Population Services International (Reproductive Health, Family Planning, & Abortion) (900/1,000)
  • Fisher House Foundation (Veterans & Military) (896/1,000)
  • PetSmart Charities (Animal & Animal Protection) (896/1,000)
  • World Resources Institute (Environment) (894/1,000)
  • DonorsChoose.org (Youth Development) (886/1,000)
  • Semper Fi Fund (Veterans & Military) (884/1,000)
  • Africare (International Relief & Development) (870/1,000)
  • Child Find of America (Child Protection) (870/1,000)
  • American Refugee Committee (Reproductive Health, Family Planning, & Abortion) (860/1,000)
  • International Rescue Committee (International Relief & Development) (856/1,000)
  • Environmental Defense Action Fund (Environment) (852/1,000)
  • Brain & Behavior Research Foundation (Mental Health & Disabilities) (850/1,000)
  • One Acre Fund (Hunger) (842/1,000)
  • Gary Sinise Foundation (Veterans & Military) (836/1,000)
  • Breast Cancer Research Foundation (Women'S Health) (828/1,000)
  • Rotary Foundation of Rotary International (International Relief & Development) (820/1,000)


Tier III Charities

These charities spend a high percentage (86%+) of their cash budged on programs with minimal overhead. In addition, these charities historically spend very little money in the process of raising funds (typically less than $15 to raise $100), and generally receive less than 50% of their cash revenue from government sources. Finally, these charities always meet certain transparency and governance metrics, while normally providing an acceptable degree of donor privacy.
  • Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) (Animal & Animal Protection) (820/1,000)
  • Clinton Foundation (Peace & International Relations) (816/1,000)
  • Diabetes Action Research and Education Foundation (Health - General) (816/1,000)
  • Waterkeeper Alliance (Environment) (814/1,000)
  • The Y (National Office) (Human Services) (810/1,000)
  • Hearing Health Foundation (Health - General) (808/1,000)
  • Partners In Health (International Relief & Development) (804/1,000)
  • Prevent Child Abuse America (National Office) (Child Protection) (802/1,000)
  • Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (Veterans & Military) (796/1,000)
  • Partnership for a Healthier America (Health - General) (796/1,000)
  • Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund (Veterans & Military) (794/1,000)
  • International Medical Corps (International Relief & Development) (782/1,000)
  • Cancer Research Institute (Cancer) (780/1,000)
  • Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (Health - General) (776/1,000)
  • PCI-Media Impact (Reproductive Health, Family Planning, & Abortion) (776/1,000)
  • International Planned Parenthood Federation-Western Hemisphere (Reproductive Health, Family Planning, & Abortion) (766/1,000)
  • Action Against Hunger-USA (Hunger) (764/1,000)
  • FINCA International (International Relief & Development) (764/1,000)
  • International Peace Institute (Peace & International Relations) (764/1,000)


Tier IV Charities

These charities spend a very good percentage (83%+) of their cash budged on programs with minimal overhead. In addition, these charities historically spend very little money in the process of raising funds (typically less than $20 to raise $100), and generally receive less than 50% of their cash revenue from government sources. Finally, these charities always meet certain transparency and governance metrics, while normally providing an acceptable degree of donor privacy.
  • Doctors Without Borders USA (International Relief & Development) (762/1,000)
  • Earthworks (Environment) (762/1,000)
  • Common Cause Education Fund (Public Policy) (760/1,000)
  • CARE USA (International Relief & Development) (758/1,000)
  • Children Incorporated (Child Sponsorship) (758/1,000)
  • Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (Animal & Animal Protection) (750/1,000)
  • National Park Foundation (NPF) (Environment) (750/1,000)
  • National Wildlife Federation (Environment) (750/1,000)
  • Homes for Our Troops (Veterans & Military) (748/1,000)
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America (National Office) (Youth Development) (744/1,000)
  • Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (Drug & Alcohol Abuse) (744/1,000)
  • Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (Cancer) (740/1,000)
  • Sierra Club Foundation (Environment) (740/1,000)
  • CEDARS (Youth-Residential) (738/1,000)
  • TechnoServe (International Relief & Development) (738/1,000)
  • Opportunity International (International Relief & Development) (734/1,000)
  • Helen Keller International (Blind & Visually Impaired) (728/1,000)
  • Children International (Child Sponsorship) (722/1,000)
  • Children's Defense Fund (Child Protection) (722/1,000)
  • Goodwill Industries International (National Office) (Disabled) (722/1,000)
  • Girls Incorporated (National Office) (Youth Development) (720/1,000)
  • Salk Institute for Biological Studies (Health - General) (718/1,000)
  • Wounded Warriors Family Support (Veterans & Military) (718/1,000)