Gotham Gazette

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Where The Funds Stand

Giving to the government may seem a little ridiculous to some New Yorkers. But just in case you were thinking about it, we have taken a look at the charity watchdog ratings of a few government "charities" to see how your dollar would be spent. These ratings do not take into account the mission of the charity, and only examine their financial standings.

For those that are looking to donate this holiday season here are some watchdogs to check out first.

Charity Navigator: rates charities on organizational efficiency, organizational capacity and how an organization grows.

Better Business Bureau of Metropolitan New York: rates charities based on 20 standards, from governance and oversight to finances.

New York State Attorney General's Office: Oversight of all charities is conducted by the attorney general's office.

The Mayor's Fund to Advance New York City: Out of the 562 large charities scored by independent charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, the mayor's fund ranks as the best bet for your dollar. It received the highest ranking from the group, which is four stars, but it does not meet the Better Business Bureau’s twenty standards. According to the bureau’s evaluation, the fund does not clearly identify officers on its website nor does its budget clearly identify how much is spent on fundraising and programs. According to Charity Navigator, the fund spends 98.6 percent of its funding on programming, 0 .9 percent on administrative expenses and 0.3 percent on fundraising.

Fund for Public Schools: It met all of the Better Business Bureau's standards and was awarded a four star rating from Charity Navigator. The fund spends 96.5 percent on programs, 2.7 percent on administration and 0.7 percent on fundraising.

Aging in New York Fund: According to the Better Business Bureau, the Aging in New York Fund received nearly $2.8 million from July 2004 through June 2005. However, it did not meet all of the bureau's charity standards because its budget did not clearly identify how much it spends on administrative services and fundraising. The fund spends 83.4 percent on programming, 13.9 percent on administration and 2.8 percent on fundraising.

City Parks Foundation: According to Charity Navigator, the City Parks Foundation brought in nearly $9 million in revenue last year, but it received only two out of four stars. Because Charity Navigator measures an organization's growth, the foundation claims the watchdog does not accurately reflect it finances. The foundation said it helps start-up groups raise money and acts as fiscal sponsors. When that group is ready to become independent, the foundation transfers the fund it had raised for it. In the rating process, that makes the foundation appear as if it is losing program, when it is not, according to the foundation.Charity Navigator found the foundation spends nearly 80 percent on programming, 10.9 percent on administration, and 9.3 percent on fundraising.



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