Web sites help givers rate charity’s worthiness

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: A recent Sun Journal story regarding the Boys & Girls Club of America’s top brass funding more personal use of contributions than the organization’s own needs was very disheartening and appears to duplicate the trend of oversalaried and unjustified bonuses set by Wall Street CEOs. Is there a Web site the general public can access for a quick reference guide to all nonprofit organizations indicating what percentage of all donations is actually put to use for the purpose of the organization? Many thanks for your good work. — Bob Turgeon, Minot

ANSWER: Sun Spots found several cites online that perform this service, and there are probably more. Here are four of them with a brief description from the site of their services. For those without the Internet, the last one provides a mailing address for a free sample of a wise-giving guide.

• www.charitynavigator.org: Charity Navigator analyzes four performance categories of organizational efficiency: program expenses, administrative expenses, fundraising expenses and fundraising efficiency. For each charity, we issue a score in each of the four performance categories, as well as a rating that combines a charity’s performance in all four categories.

• www.charitywatch.org: Of the over 500 charities currently rated by the American Institute of Philanthropy, only a select number qualify for our listing of top-rated charities based on our rigorous analysis. Groups included on the top-rated list generally spend 75 percent or more of their budgets on programs, spend $25 or less to raise $100 in public support, do not hold excessive assets in reserve and receive “open-book” status for disclosure of basic financial information and documents to AIP.

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• charityguide.org: The American Institute of Philanthropy provides a watchdog service to help donors understand how well their money is being spent. This watchdog service uses ratings criteria to evaluate nationally prominent charities. Generally, top-rated charities that receive a grade of at least B openly share audited financial statements and income tax forms, spend less than $25 to raise $100 and allocate at least 75 percent of money raised toward charitable programs (not fundraising and general administration).

• www.bbb.org/us/wise-giving-guide: The Wise Giving Guide, published quarterly by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, summarizes the results of the alliance’s latest national charity evaluations and features a cover story, usually with giving tips, on charity accountability issues or other topics of interest to donors. For a complimentary copy of the Wise Giving Guide, send a postcard or note with name and address to Wise Giving Guide, 4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800, Arlington, VA 22203.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Thanks for the great job you do for us readers. My question is where is the closest Long John Silvers and Golden Corral Restaurants? Thank you. — No Name, Lewiston

ANSWER: You’d better gas up the car. The nearest Long John Silvers is at 321 Loudon Road, Concord, N.H., 603-223-6908. The closest Golden Corral Sun Spots could find is at 436 Parker St. in Springfield, Mass., 413-543-4600.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Several weeks ago there was a story of a local woman who made her own chocolate-covered cherries after Mary’s Candy Shop closed. I misplaced her name. Could someone help me get in touch with her? I am interested in buying some of her creations. Thank you. — Pauline, Sabattus

ANSWER: You can call Ella’s Candy at 576-0478 and 207-784-2436; her e-mail is ella@ellascandy.com. The Web site is www.ellascandy.com.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I would like to find a person who can crochet some doilies for me. They can call me at 778-6684. — No Name, Chesterville

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be e-mailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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