What can you do as a donor to ensure your charitable dollars aren't invested in fraudulent groups?
- Hang up the phone! Reynolds Sr. and his family were able to raise so much money in part by working with for-profit telemarketing firms. Those companies siphon off most of what you donate and only pass along small percentage of your gift to the charity.
- Be proactive. Don't wait for a charity to ask you for support. Instead flip the table and identify which causes you are most passionate about.
- Do your homework. Take the time to research the charity's finances, governance practices and results. You'll find much of this analysis, for free, at Charity Navigator.
- Make a long-term commitment. Once you've done your research, give generously and over the long haul. A great way to do that is by setting up a monthly donation to your favorite charity.