Stan steers you to the Charity Navigator

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“Yesterday — Dec. 7, 1941 — a date which will live in infamy, the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

Our nation was attacked and none will dare deny that we had a right to defend it.

Israel is attacked daily. Hamas places rocket launchers very close to schools and hospitals and when the tiny State of Israel chooses to defend itself, there are those who criticize it for wounding and killing children.

I applaud President Obama who said, “There’s no country on earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders. We are fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself.”

Israel must first exercise its “right to defend itself.” Then, when the shelling is halted, they can talk.

• • •

Ladies, are you planning to get married soon? I mean real soon. Look at the calendar. December 12th is almost here. Written in numerical shorthand the date is 12-12-12. Choose that date and he’ll never forget your anniversary.

• • •

I am looking at a stack of envelopes sitting on my desk. Starting several weeks ago, in every mail delivery, I received at least one, some days as many as three requests for donations to various causes.

Solicitations always come before the holidays, for the obvious reasons. There are some supporting religious charities, others are for medical and disease needs, and several from catastrophic origins. Without even opening the envelopes I know that the appeals for the last category I mentioned were generated by Sandy.

My roommate and I have this afternoon free and will devote a few hours sifting through the envelopes. We will, as we usually do, write checks to those we find are the most worthwhile. So how do we choose who gets our money?

There’s an association named the Charity Navigator. This company ranks thousands of not-for-profit organizations on their control of administrative and fund-raising expenses, the strength of their finances, and the transparency of their operations. Transparency! Don’t you just love that word? It’s the word of the decade.

We were supposed to see more of it in government. What the heck happened?

If we don’t see enough of it here in a particular charity, the navigator reduces the number of stars that entity receives. That, no doubt, results in a reduction of finances. It ranks each particular organization from zero to four stars with four stars being the highest ranking for any particular cause.

Ok, gang. Go to and look them up one at a time. You just may find yourself in shock when you learn that some of your favorite causes rank no better than one or two stars while others you hardly thought of at all are up there with four.

Aside from finding an alphabetical listing of the numerous charities in the nation, you will see a lot of sensational articles and listings that may influence your gift giving. If you peek at the “10 Celebrity-Related Charities” you will learn that Tony La Russa’s Animal Rescue Foundation rates four stars while, even with Woody Harrelson and Alec Baldwin lending their names to the People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals, PETA rates only one.

In the “Ten charities overpaying their for-profit fund-raisers,” you may be shocked to learn that the professional fund-raising fees for the Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center came in at number one with a cost of 94.6 percent of its budget. Of every dollar you may give, less than one nickel goes to the cause.

There’s a list of the “Ten highly paid CEOs at low-rated charities” and wonderful articles about the “Tax benefits of giving” and “How to protect yourself from online scams”. That last one is a winner and is a must-read for all.

I am telling you to give what you can where it will do the most good. That’s only my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

Read Stan Gershbein's column every Monday on
Read Stan Gershbein's column every Monday on
Posted 12:00 am, December 3, 2012
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Reader feedback

Bob from Grrritsen Beach says:
If you want to contribute to a charity in regards to super storm, Sandy, just go into any neighborhood that was devastated by this storm and ask someone to direct you to the nearest shelter and stop in and say hello.
Look around and you'll see plenty of people in need. Ask for someone who is in charge and introduce yourself and then take out your checkbook and write a check.
100% of what you are donating will go directly to those people in need.
Dec. 3, 2012, 5:20 pm
Tinman from Sheepshead Bay says:
I wholeheartedly agree with you about Israel.
Israeli leaders and its citizens certainly wish they didn’t have to exist under the constant threat of obliteration. But they have no choice. When faced with fanatical suicide bombers, who have no qualms about killing innocent people, and the fear of randomly being bombarded by Hamas rockets that leave paths of death and destruction, Israel is forced to mount any defense necessary to thwart attacks from its numerous enemies.
Time and again Israel has always been willing to negotiate with its enemies, but uneasy diplomacy rarely ends in guarantees of the Jewish state’s permanent peaceful existence. Until the arbiters of peacemaking parleys assure Israel that its co-existence will be acknowledged and accepted, any temporary truces, cease-fires or alternative solutions will remain as fragile as they are uncertain.
Dec. 12, 2012, 4:56 pm

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