Donating to a Charitable Organization
March 23, 2004 6:36 PM   Subscribe

What is the best way to determine if a charitable organization is legit? I'd like to donate to but want to make sure my cash would go where they say it will. They claim to be a "501c3 public foundation" but I couldn't find a .gov searchable database for those.
posted by gwint to Work & Money (6 answers total)
In the past, I've found to be very helpful. I believe it requires a free sign-in to see an organization's irs filings.

Or, you can get the info at the source.
posted by jazzkat11 at 6:44 PM on March 23, 2004

The Charity Navigator is pretty good. It appears that Spirit of America is pretty new, so finding valid info could be difficult, more for more traditional charities, the Navigator works pretty well.
posted by Ufez Jones at 6:55 PM on March 23, 2004


Whois Server:
Referral URL:
Status: ACTIVE
Updated Date: 04-nov-2003
Creation Date: 13-sep-2001
Expiration Date: 13-sep-2006

Don't know if that answers any questions...but the domain was registered just two days after 9/11, so *someone* was thinking about doing this (or something like it?) in the immediate aftermath of 9/11.
posted by davidmsc at 8:59 PM on March 23, 2004

Good catch davidmsc. Makes me wonder what salary they are paying whoever runs it.
posted by Goofyy at 9:26 PM on March 23, 2004

You may want to look up these folks and see what you think; SoA seems to be an offshoot of CCF, which is the true 501(c)(3). My take: they're Council on Foreign Relations types with Beltway careers, so probably OK [meaning money will go where it should] if middlebrow.

You can use a third-party site but you can also always directly request their Form 990 [IRS, which will give you an idea of what they spend on the all-important charitable vs. administrative ratio. A well-run non-profit should have no problem with disclosing this information in a clear and direct manner, even if they don't have the PDFs on their own site.
posted by dhartung at 11:39 PM on March 23, 2004

That it's Web site was registered just after Sept. 11, 2001, is in-line with the organization's own about page:

Spirit of America was founded by Jim Hake, a businessman who The Los Angeles Times says, "draws on a fundamental faith that his country is trying hard to be all that it aspires to." 9/11 made apparent to him, as with many, that America and the freedoms it symbolizes are at risk. Having benefited from those freedoms and being familiar with the sacrifices of those who have served America, Jim sought an opportunity to contribute.

The Better Business Bureau tracks info about charities at, but hte listing is far from complete--Spirit of America is not listed.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:15 AM on March 24, 2004

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