When thinking about what charities to give to it's important to have confidence that what you're giving is valued and is being put to good use.
1) Look up tax returns on the IRS website. By law, registered 501(c)(3) nonprofits must make their exemption application and annual tax returns available for public inspection, and they are all online on the IRS website. Search for the charity of your choice here: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/tax-exempt-organization-search. Phinney's, for instance, lists its tax exempt number at the bottom of its homepage for easy lookup.
2) Check the organization’s website or other marketing materials to see their mission, and then research if their expenditures align. One way to find out if things line up is to request a nonprofit’s annual report. Many nonprofits feature them on their website. Phinney’s Annual Report provides a succinct way for us to share important information on the good we do.
Phinney’s most recent (2019-2020) Annual Report notes that our volunteers responded to approximately 1,200 requests for help over the phone, via email, or through social media. We paid $61,501 toward vet visits for ill pets and an additional $25,983 on annual pet wellness checks, tests, and medications. We also spent $23,499 on pet supplies for dozens of families in need, which equals about seven tons of food! In all, 71.4% of Phinney’s expenditures went to veterinary care, 19.2% paid for pet supplies, and we spent just 5% and 4.4% on operational and fundraising costs, respectively.
3) Check to see if others recognize the nonprofit’s contributions. Sites like GreatNonProfits, which curates client, volunteer, and community endorsements, can provide a treasure trove of reviews and other insights into how volunteers, donors, and others within the community view a nonprofit.
Recently, Great NonProfits recognized Phinney’s as a Top-Rated NonProfit for 2021. We are so honored (and moved!) by the stories donors and volunteers have shared about their experiences with Phinney’s. To read their stories, visit Great NonProfits.
What’s above isn’t meant to be an exhaustive list, but following these steps can go a long way toward ensuring that you’re giving with confidence to a cause.