The 20 Best Charities in America: 2010

Anyone who chooses to use their hard-earned money to help others – whether it’s Mark Zuckerberg or your wealthy aunt – wants their donations to be used wisely. This is especially true around the holidays, since philanthropy is about helping less fortunate people meet their basic needs more than buying the newest iMacs for a charity’s home office.

With that in mind, here we look at the charities with the lowest admin costs, using data taken from CharityNavigator, a comprehensive charity rating website that evaluates philanthropy groups based on the tax records that they provide detailing yearly expenses.

Keep in mind that low admin costs do not always mean a good charity, as a group that doesn’t invest enough in administering its programs may be very inefficient at distributing donations to the people who need them most. Because of this we have only included groups that have received CharityNavigator’s perfect rating of four stars, an overall efficiency assessment the site bases on multiple metrics.

For concerned donors who want to know which charities might be best to avoid, check out MainStreet’s look at the charities with the highest admin costs and the 15 highest-paid charity CEOs. Here, we look at the opposite: The best charities in the country.

20. K.I.D.S.

Administrative Expenses: 0.3%

Managing an annual budget of around $62 million, K.I.D.S. – Kids in Distressed Situations – manages to administer its programs with almost no overhead. The group acts as a middleman between businesses and children or families in need. The global charity develops partnerships with producers of children’s products (clothes, books, toys, etc.) and distributes them to its network of local partners and youth in disaster areas. It takes donations of either cash or new products for children and young people, 85% of which are given out in the U.S.

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