Times are tough and many charities are taking a hit, even though folks need outreach now more than ever.

That is why MainStreet is on a mission to find the charitable organizations most worthy of your donations. We'll be focusing on their effectiveness and the amount of money they budget for actual good deeds, as opposed to that which goes to overhead such as administrative and fundraising costs.

This week we're looking at Clean Ocean Action in Highland, N.J.

Who they are and what they do: This 25-year-old coalition of more than 150 businesses and environmental and public service groups works to protect portions of the mid-Atlantic coastline. They've recently been keeping the pressure on Atlantic Sea Island Group, which has plans to build a 116-acre liquefied natural gas facility off the cost of New York and New Jersey.

“They definitely rate higher than similar organizations based on their financial position,” says Sandra Miniutti, a spokesperson for Charity Navigator, a site that rates non-profits based on their financial statements.“They’ve outperformed their competitors and they have one and a half years of working capital, enough to weather a downturn in the economy.”

How they spend your donations: Many not-for-profits, including giants such as the American Cancer Society and even small local soup kitchens, allocate as much as 15% of their total revenue for administrative costs and 10% for fundraising. But according to its financial statement for fiscal year 2006-2007, Clean Ocean Action devoted 84% of its total revenue to fund environmental research, education and community action to protect the New York and New Jersey shore. A relatively small 7.5% went to fundraising and 7.8% went to administrative costs.

Compared to similar groups, Clean Ocean Action hasn’t raked in the big bucks. The Sierra Club and the World Wildlife Fund both boast revenues well in excess of $100 million. Clean Ocean Action raised $674,510 in the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

If you’re interested in making a donation or learning about how you can protect New York and New Jersey’s coastline, contact Clean Ocean Action at (732) 872-0111, or visit their website at CleanOceanAction.org.