November 22, 2013

Online Charitable Giving this Holiday: Finding the Right Food Bank

As you sit down to enjoy a holiday meal with your family, it's natural to be grateful for what you have. It's equally natural to feel concern for those who do not have access to food during the holiday season. According to a Harris Interactive Poll conducted on behalf of World Vision, 68 percent of American adults have given a charitable gift.

If you are one of the 68 percent, you have several ways of giving. The Chronicle of Philanthropy conducted a study that included 115,000 nonprofits, finding that online donations grew 14 percent between 2011, and 2012. In 2012, $2.1 billion were donated via the Internet.

Internet giving begins by determining the food charity to which you'd like to donate. According to the financial publication Main Street, many charitable organizations are honest about the percentage of donations collected that actually go to helping the hungry, while other are woefully inefficient at making sure the money goes where it should. If you have any questions about a particular organization, you can check out Charity Navigator, a nonprofit website that sheriffs charity expenses by looking at their IRS statements and assessing how well a charity runs itself.

If you're concerned about Internet security as you donate, you can learn more about cybercrimes and how to protect yourself at LifeLock. In the meantime, the FBI says there are a number of things you can do in order to make to make your online giving more secure.

  • Install or update antivirus software

  • Keep firewall turned on

  • Install or update antispyware technology

  • Keep operation system up to date

  • Never open an email attachment from someone you don't know, and be wary of those coming from names you recognize

  • Turn your computer off when it's not in use

  • Some charities are easy to spot by reputation, while others are hidden gems.

    City Harvest

    Based in New York City, City Harvest was formed by citizens who were upset by how much perfectly good food was being thrown away from restaurants at night's end. City Harvest has gone national by offering tips to other cities who'd like to follow their model.

    Heifer International

    As a way of encouraging self-reliance, Heifer International uses donations to give hungry families livestock and then trains those families to create a steady income. Further, they encourage those families to give the offspring of their livestock to other families in need.

    The Society of St. Andrew

    As a faith-based organization, the Society of St. Andrew has a society of volunteers whose job it is to collect leftover crops from farms following harvest. They distribute those crops to distribution groups like food banks, providing more than 15 million pounds of food to poor communities around the country. SoSA is regularly listed as one of the highest-rated national charities, keeping its administrative costs down to 1.3 percent.

    Share Our Strength

    Share Our Strength's goal is to end childhood hunger in the U.S. by the year 2015. Targeting at-risk communities in every state, SOS works to get nutritious food to the children who need it the most. In addition, they use part of their donations to give grants to other groups actively working on improving access to healthy food. The group contends that they can provide 10 meals for every dollar donated.