Every year, I receive dozens of solicitations for charity from police organizations, homeless shelters, animal services and zoos, schools, you name it. So how do I decide which charities to give to?
I have what I suppose are unusual criteria... As a businessman, I like to ask the question of which charity will have the greatest "return". I tend to believe that Americans are better off than other people in the world, so I consider it a poor use of my resources to give to charities such as "Make a Wish", which aim to bring a little more joy into the life of dying children who are already well-off by world standards. While I understand the sentiment, I've seen true abject poverty and misery abroad, and I'd rather feed some kid in the Philippines for the rest of his life than send a kid in Minnesota with Leukemia to Disneyland.
But that's not enough... while undoubtedly "Save the Children" is a great charity, how can my money have the most impact? I've read about charities that offer entrepeneurial "microloans" which follow the "teach a man to fish" philosophy, and those seem promising. Has anyone bothered to rank charities in terms of a charitable ROI? I'd be really interested in seeing that. I'm not a rich man, and I have a limited amount to give, so it's important to me that the money go where it will have the greatest impact. Ideas appreciated.