Anchor Intro: According to the Giving USA Foundation, the amount Americans will donate to charity this year will approach $206 billion. Impressive numbers, but that money could help even more people if all of us followed this advice from Bankrate.com.
Voice over 1: Nothing says more about America than the way we open our hearts and our wallets to those in need. Like providing a hot meal to people who need it.
SOT: "Feeding America's mission statement is to feed hungry Americans through a nationwide network of member food banks, and to engage our country in the fight to end hunger."
Voice over 2: What you just heard is called a mission statement: a clear, concise definition of what a charity does --something you should see, understand and agree with before you donate. Step one in checking out any charity.
Voice over 3: Step two? Taking the time to make sure the recipient of your largess is using your money efficiently. One way is to see what percent of their income goes to administrative costs, like advertising and overhead, and what percent goes to actual programs.
SOT: "Our organization operates with a 1.9 percent administrative cost. The rest of the dollars go to providing food for other nonprofit organizations that are serving the community in need."
Voice over 4: And even if you're interviewing the CEO, don't take anyone's word for anything. Take another minute for Step 3: See what other people are saying.
Voice over 5: It's easy to do at any number of free Web sites. Just log on, look them up and check them out. Or at least request information directly from the charity, because all nonprofits are not created equal.
Standup: Of course, you want your money to work as hard for that charity as you worked for that money. That's why you should always take the time to do a check before you write a check. For Bankrate.com, I'm Kristin Arnold.