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Cedar Rapids Charity Weighs In On List Of "Worst Charities"

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (KGAN/KFXA) - When it comes to your donations, there are certainly some charities that are a much better investment than others.

"There's all kinds of accounting tricks, games being played that distort the financial picture," Daniel Burochoff the President of Chicago based CharityWatch said.

A recent list compiled by the Tampa Bay Times, CNN and The Center for Investigative Reporting identifies the 50 charities that pay the lowest amount of their donated dollars to those in need. They all devote less than four percent of their donations raised to direct cash aid.

"It is upsetting if you have organizations, that are not totally truthful in their mission," Sue Hawn, President of the Mercy Medical Center Foundation said.

Hawn noted that transparency within charitable organizations is imperative. The Mercy Foundation’s annual report clearly documents how the more than $3.1 billion dollars given to the hospital last year was distributed.

"We visit with our donors annually to say this is how we're using your gift this year," Hawn said.

According to the recent report by the Tampa Bay Times and others, the worst charitable foundations may spend up to two-thirds of every donated dollar on over-head related costs. This can often include hiring outside companies to solicit for donations. In contrast, at the Mercy Foundation, they spend about 15 cents of every dollar on over-head related costs and their in-house staff solicits donations.

"I'm delighted, I'm proud of the fact, that we are so low, but then we understand what we're raising money for," Hawn said.

Groups like CharityWatch label bad charities with a failing grade.

"They're basically ripping off the owners and diverting charitable money that can go to people in need, it's very wrong," Burochoff said.

The group offers tips for giving wisely. They warn donors not to be misled by a familiar charity name. Some questionable charities will choose a name similar to a more reputable one to draw in donors. In the recent report Tampa Bay Times report, the charitable organization listed as the very worst is named "Kids Wish." It’s a name similar to the popular, Make-A-Wish Foundation. The report notes that while "Kids Wish" devoted 2.5 percent of cash to donations, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and North Florida spent 60 percent of the cash it raised granting wishes.

To take a look at the list of the worst charities, click here.

To learn more about ChairtyWatch, click here.

The Cedar Rapids Better Business Bureau also recommends

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