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Types of Health Charities

Support Service Charities

Some health-related charities offer support services for those with health needs. These charities help families and patients with concerns outside medical care.

Examples: The Ronald McDonald House provides housing while patients are getting medical care. The Make-A-Wish Foundation grants desires of children with life-threatening medical conditions, such as a wish by a child with leukemia to be a policeman for a day.

Umbrella Organizations

Umbrella organizations represent more than one charity or interest. They channel funds to organizations that concentrate on different issues or have several missions they develop programs for on their own.

Examples: United Way is an example because, although it has a health initiative to increase the number of youth and adults who are healthy and avoid risky behaviors, it also has the mission to cut the number of high school dropouts and help working families. Community Health Charities of America transfers funds it collects to local offices of 60 different national and international health charities like the American Cancer Society or the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Both United Way and CHCA let you choose where your donation will go while also giving you information on a variety of charities and programs.

Vetting a Charity

When choosing good charities to donate to, you can turn to several sources, such as the Better Business Bureau's online Wise Giving Alliance or CharityNavigator.org. Charity Navigator has a four-star rating system for charity efficiency, while the BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance reports are based on 20 standards. Contact information and web sites are also available through the BBB.

As a general rule, you want to choose a charity that uses 25% or less of its funds for administrative expenses, but because of the way it calculates those expenses, the BBB suggests a 35% cap.

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Reviewed on March 30, 2011

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