CHICAGO -- In the swirl of the holiday season, consumers can find themselves flooded with pitch letters, phone calls, food drive appeals and donation boxes for what appear to be legitimate charities.
The decision to donate is often made quickly, for emotional reasons or simply because we are asked -- not because we know a lot about the organization's operations and track record.
Few bell ringers, for instance, are ready to tell you how their charity characterizes the value of in-kind donations on its financial filings, how much its CEO makes each year in relation to heads of similar organizations or how effective the charity is at improving the lives of those it serves.
A growing number of resources are designed to help consumers find the answers to such questions. Still, knowing which service to use can be as hard as choosing a charity itself.