Tools to calculate how charities spend their money

How to spot a charity that's not spending wisely

Using the website CharityNavigator.org, we accessed the IRS forms of charities raising money for Hurricane Harvey victims.

The Greater Houston Community Foundation, which is managing the Hurricane Harvey Relief  Fund, is one of the most direct charities on the ground in the disaster zone.

According to IRS documents, it spends 98 percent of the money it raises directly on it's programs.

This is excellent. Anything over 75 percent is considered good.

But we found other charities raising money for Harvey relief are not as efficient.

Portlight Strategies, which is a group that helps disabled people, spends only 64 percent of what it takes in on the cause it claims to help.

Catholic Charities USA, also raising money for Houston, spends 65 percent of it's money on it's services, which means the other 35 percent is overhead expenses.

At Patio Lane and Awning Works in Clearwater they are giving straight to Texas.

"On Wed night, on Facebook I saw a friend of mine say he was getting a big truck and taking it to Texas and he needed donations," says Wendy Schechner.

These do-it-yourself charities are popping up all over Tampa bay and all over the country. Partly because people want to see where their donations are going to.

Another way to test a charity's financial health, look at the executive pay, which is public record.

Average CEO compensation is in the low to mid six figures, depending on size of the organization and geographic location. Be wary if you see an average charity with executives making mid to upper six figures.

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