Top Rated Charities

 

You want your donation to go to the right organization, so here are some top places to consider according to charity-rating website Charity Navigator.  Here’s our top 5 list:

No. 5:  Special Operations Warrior Foundation

Featured previously as one of the best charities that receive no help from the government, the Special Operations Warrior Foundation uses donations to support members of the elite special forces units of all branches of the military — Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, Army Rangers and Air Force rotary and fixed-wing squadrons, as well as several others.

The group’s annual revenue (more than $13 million last year) goes to two very specific areas: providing educational scholarships to the children of special forces soldiers who die in the line of duty and helping families of severely wounded soldiers visit their loved ones in the hospital.

No. 4: Homes for Our Troops

 Another organization that comes to the aid of soldiers and military families, Homes for Our Troops collects donations and secures volunteer labor to build houses for disabled veterans or to modify existing houses so they are handicap-accessible. Managing revenue of more than $11 million in 2010, the group addresses the struggles of injured soldiers after they leave the hospital and begin to live with their injuries, an area of recovery and rehabilitation that the Veterans Administration addresses through Specially Adapted Housing Grants of up to approximately $63,000, which do not always cover the entire cost of construction. Homes for Our Troops steps in when those grants run out, and the group says it has completed projects in 30 states.

No. 3: The Navy SEAL Foundation

 Another military-focused charity, the Navy SEAL Foundation targets an even narrower group than the larger Special Operations Warrior Foundation (our No. 5 highest-rated charity) does, and with revenue of just less than $6 million, less than half of SOWF’s receipts. And in many (but not all) ways, the groups’ missions overlap.

According to the NSF, “Our programs center around three pillars: health and welfare, including tragedy assistance and family events; education and motivation, including scholarships and tuition assistance; and history and heritage, including the funding of monuments and memorials.”

No. 2: Patient Advocate Foundation

Congress may have passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act at the beginning of 2010, but a complex law to ensure universal health care is bound to have some holes. To fill them, the Virginia-based Patient Advocate Foundation manages more than $35 million in donations to provide comprehensive support to those struggling with health problems. The group helps the uninsured, disabled patients who need support in the workplace and patients whose medical-related expenses have become unmanageable. And by all accounts, it’s doing a great job: After a steep drop in donations from 2007 to 2008 (during a recession, remember), the organization’s fundraising in 2010 marked a 50% increase, compared with pre-recession levels.

No. 1: Give Kids the World

Featured previously as one of the best charities that receive no help from the government, Give Kids the World uses its revenue (more than $28 million in 2009, the last year for which filings are available) to bring terminally ill children to Florida’s famous theme parks, such as Disney World and Universal Studios. The organization even built its own theme park in the area, Give Kids the World Village, to provide its own fantasy vacations for sick children and their families.

With 93.2% of donations going to program expenses instead of administrative or fundraising costs, the organization also is notable for the conservative salary of its president, which is just shy of $190,000 and represents only 0.53% of the organization’s expenses.

 

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