1. News

Introducing Charity Checker, a new tool to make giving easier

The site (you can find it at is an excellent starting place for people who want to check out a charity.
Published Jan. 25, 2014

When it comes to choosing a charity, there's a lot of information out there — if you know where to look.

There are watchdog groups that analyze finances and websites that pull together reviews. State governments collect data. So does the IRS. You could spend weeks collecting information on a single charity and weeks more trying to sort it all out.

The Tampa Bay Times, in partnership with The Center for Investigative Reporting, has built an online tool to make charity research a little easier. Our "Charity Checker" website, for the first time, aggregates the ratings and reviews already offered by several of the nation's most prominent watchdog organizations.

With a simple search, you can see their results, all in one place.

The need for better information and easier access became crystal clear to us over the past year as we investigated "America's Worst Charities." Reporters at the Times and CIR spent many months tracking down information about nonprofits and analyzing it. We learned a lot from our investigation.

We learned that it was easy, so easy, for charities to gin up donations even when they spend almost nothing on the people they promise to help.

We learned that it's sometimes extremely difficult to tell the good charities from the bad. Some of the nation's most wasteful charities pick names that mimic popular organizations. Others use accounting gimmicks to overstate the good they're doing.

As much as anything, we learned that the American public is hungry for more information. A month after we published "America's Worst Charities," the series had been viewed online more than 10 million times. We had thousands of comments, letters and emails from across the country. More than 350 people had a request: Could the Times and CIR investigate a particular charity?

We decided Charity Checker was the logical next step.

The site (you can find it at isn't perfect. There are lots of charities, good and bad, that haven't been rated or reviewed. And Charity Checker can't delve deeply into each of the thousands of charities that show up there and tell you definitively whether you should give or not.

But we think it's an excellent starting place for people who want to check out a charity before they give. We do our best to flag charities that are under a serious cloud of suspicion. And we share the ratings and reviews of nearly all the major watchdog organizations that do this kind of work. We provide an unfiltered look at their data and make it easy to jump to their websites for more information.

We encourage you to log on and see what others are saying about a charity. You may even want to write a review of your own through Charity Checker makes that easy. And hopefully makes finding information on a cause a little easier too.


  1. AP file photo of then Gov. and now U.S. Sen. Rick Scott
    DeSantis, Rick Scott and other Republicans have taken a strong stance on Saudi Arabia in recent days. President Donald Trump?
  2. A pair of bottlenose dolphins surface off the coast off Savannah, Ga., as viewed from a vessel heading to Gray's Reef on Wednesday, Aug. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty) ROBERT F. BUKATY  |  AP
    The dolphin was stuck in a lobster trap line. The crew’s actions likely saved the dolphin’s life.
  3. Charlie explains to his parents and sister, Beth, that the best thing about church is that there are no Herdmans there. Pictured, from left: Sarah Krug as Mother (Grace Bradley), Amber Marino as Beth, Frank Miller as Father (Bob Bradley) and Jude Mys as Charlie. Kristina Mitten
    Live Oak Theatre presents ‘Best Christmas Pageant Ever'
  4. An undated photo of an inmate pod at the Falkenburg Road Jail in Hillsborough County. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office] Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office
    Marcus Anderson, 33, collapsed Dec. 1 at the Falkenburg Road Jail. He died six days later.
  5. FILE- In this Jan. 29, 2016 file photo shows the entrance to the Naval Air Base Station in Pensacola, Fla. The US Navy is confirming that an active shooter and one other person are dead after gunfire at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola. Area hospital representatives tell The Associated Press that at least 11 people were hospitalized. The base remains locked down amid a huge law enforcement response. (AP Photo/Melissa Nelson, File) MELISSA NELSON  |  AP
    The Navy on Saturday identified the three victims and hailed them as heroes for trying to stop the shooter and flagging down first responders after being shot.
  6. Check for the latest breaking news and updates. Tampa Bay Times
    The intersection near the accident is a difficult one to safely navigate.
  7. Ann Corzo and her son Kristopher. .
    Parents share stories about Baker Act experiences and how they affected their families.
  8. Michael Higgins, DO Vince Vanni
    News and notes on local businesses
  9. Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point Star Award Volunteers, from left: Rev. Fred Houck, Barbara Weber and Steve Johnson. Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point
    News and notes on Pasco County businesses
  10. A Brinks security guard and a Good Samaritan who came to his aid were shot during a robbery attempt at GTE Financial credit union in Brandon on Friday. Tony Marrero, Times Staff
    The search continued into the evening Saturday for the shooter, who is believed to be a serial bank robber.