Around Town

The top-rated Charlotte charities to give back to this holiday season

Staff members from Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and Publix's staff  came together to help organize and stack can goods donated by Publix to the Food Bank.
In an effort to help with transportation needs and the ability of the Food Bank to increase its capacity of the types of food it can pick up from retailers, Publix is donating $120,000 to go toward buying a 30-foot refrigerated truck. Also, to help families fill their pantries before the holidays, Publix is also donating a truck load of protein and other foods valued at $55,000.
Staff members from Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina and Publix's staff came together to help organize and stack can goods donated by Publix to the Food Bank. In an effort to help with transportation needs and the ability of the Food Bank to increase its capacity of the types of food it can pick up from retailers, Publix is donating $120,000 to go toward buying a 30-foot refrigerated truck. Also, to help families fill their pantries before the holidays, Publix is also donating a truck load of protein and other foods valued at $55,000. ogaines@charlotteobserver.com

Holidays are the busy season for most every non-profit in the Charlotte region. The average charity generates a significant portion of its annual revenue over the last six weeks of the calendar year.

Often what prevents us from financial giving is our lack of confidence in knowing how our money will actually be used for the cause of the organization. But, with some research, we can start to eliminate that mystery.

Charity Navigator rates more than 1.4 million non-profits around the U.S. based on data that determine whether the organization is well-run, using its money correctly and thus actually makes an impact. Non-profits who partner with Charity Navigator are required to provide organizational information and are given an accountability and transparency score.

Why is this important? Let’s say a charity hosts a gala that raises $10,000 but actually costs them $10,000 to host. That fundraiser, while it may have netted you a sweet silent auction prize, actually helped no one. Charity Navigator helps address these types of concerns, as well as items like Board of Director independency, company policies, audited financials, staff lists, donor policies, and more.

It’s on non-profits to do good with what they’ve been provided, yes. But it’s equally on us to adequately source the right organizations doing the best work with the most impact. The smarter we are about our giving, the more it benefits those we are aiming to help in the first place.

So, who is rated the best in our area? There are 34 rated non-profits in Charlotte*, 12 of which are given 4-stars by Charity Navigator (the highest rating). They are:

CharityPurposeScore (out of 100)
Second Harvest Food Bank of MetrolinaFood bank97.8
Charlotte Family HousingHomeless services97.18
Billy Graham Evangelistic AssociationFaith-based messaging service96.47
The Urban Ministry CenterHomeless services95.6
Foundation For The CarolinasCommunity development94.33
Samaritan’s FeetRelief services93.81
Habitat for Humanity of CharlotteAffordable housing92.73
Humane Society of CharlotteAnimal shelter92.68
Arts & Science CouncilArt advocacy92.07
Charlotte BalletPerformance art91.13
WFAENPR news source91.06
A Child’s PlaceHomeless services90.69

* Only organizations with at least $1 million in annual revenue are eligible to be rated, but even organizations below that threshold often provide their data for the public.

Don’t see your favorite organization on this list, or want to look up data on a non-profit in the area? Head to the Charity Navigator website to get CharlotteSmart.

Photo: T. Ortega Gaines/Charlotte Observer

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