The Most Bang for Your Donated Buck

The Most Bang for Your Donated Buck

The most viral video in history exploded onto the national scene on March 5th and captivated people (including us!) for 30 minutes, reaching 100 million views in just six days. In the world we live in today, it pays to be technologically savvy. Add in a passionate and attractive speaker (and his super cute kid!) going up against a war criminal in Africa and you've created the picture perfect charitable organization. If all charities called the world to action like the Kony 2012 campaign hitting the world right now, charitable giving would seem like a more manageable idea in a nation plagued with recession.

What amazes us most about this video is how it could be so long -- really a "short film" -- and keep people watching the entire time. In a world of 140 character news bulletins (aka tweets) and the decline of long form news, this 30 minute video had most people glued to their computer through the end. Whether you were alerted by Twitter or Google trending or by world of mouth or local or national news, you've undoubtedly heard of this movement by now and how it has young people everywhere joining together and supporting a cause -- whether by action or monetary donation. The Invisible Children movement calls first for awareness. Secondly, it encourages people to purchase "action packs " including two Kony 2012 bracelets, an action guide, posters, buttons, and a t-shirt for $30. Or, donate a few dollars a month, and you get an action kit for free. If you haven't seen it, check it out below:

Unfortunately, as with every good idea, there are skeptics. But it is through this skepticism that we can gain a clearer picture of an organization and their mission. In the case of the Invisible Children, how much of each person's $30 or monthly donation is actually going to help directly stop the war criminal Joseph Kony? You can read a blog post explaining the Invisible Children financials here, as well as their mission statement and goals. Understanding an organization's mission is the quite possibly the most important part of aligning yourself with a charity. The difference between awareness and actual action is a line that can often be blurred, and it is something to consider when researching a non-profit.

Finding the right NGO for you is tough. There are over a million out there for a number of worthy causes. The hard part is choosing what you are most passionate about, and then deciding who deserves your hard earned cash. Who is going to spend that money wisely, and even more noteworthy, spend the largest percentage of your dollar on the actual cause? An efficient charity is more elusive than you'd think, so we've compiled a list of some of the most efficient large charities and some of the least efficient large charities. Our research was largely taken from CharityNavigator.org, America's leading independent charity evaluator and Forbes.

So before you hand over your next paycheck to the Invisible Children, check out this short list. They are also mostly large national organizations, and we understand your local food bank may be more efficient than some of the big guys.

Operation Compassion: Operation Compassion covers all areas of need and still manages to be efficient. They respond to natural disasters worldwide, helping to mobilize churches, individuals and community groups to provide food and basic necessities for the poor, widows, and children.

Brother's Brother Foundation: Located in Pittsburgh, this foundation extends its hands to help everyone in need. They promote international health and education through the distribution of donated medical, education, agricultural, and other resources.

Donors Choose: Whether you have children or not, Donors Choose is a great place to help out public schools. Teachers post requests for supplies for school projects ranging from pencils to microscopes, so choose locally or choose a story that inspires you and give what you can.

LEAST EFFICIENT:

Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S.
Paralyzed Veterans of America
The Girl Scouts

What did you think of the Kony video? How do you check out a charity before deciding to give, and who is your favorite recipient of your hard earned cash? Let us know in the comments below!

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