Use sites like CharityNavigator to find out “where your money is going.”
Don’t wait until the next newsmaking disaster to give blood. Call your local Red Cross/Red Crescent/etc. for an appointment, or just show up during their open hours.
Although the Red Cross is great for blood donation, it does have a bad record of mismanagement when it comes to disaster recovery. For that, try UNICEF or Doctors Without Borders instead.
The Salvation Army is genuinely terrible for LGBT+ people. Try Goodwill or the VVA.
Don’t get swayed by clickbaity articles about Outrageous Scandals without doing your own further investigation. For example, Locks of Love doesn’t actually make wigs for child cancer patients!…it makes wigs for children with a disease you’ve never heard of. Wow, much shocking, very horrible.
What Goodwill “actually does” with your donated clothes is one of these non-scandals. If they can’t sell a piece of clothing, it’ll get processed as textile recycling. The planet wins, and nobody loses. (Just make sure to wash and dry everything before donating, because if it’s wet or moldy they can’t even try to sell it.)
Give cash, not canned food. “Find well-managed charities in your community and trust them to know how to do their job. They have access to food at a fraction of the price. They know their clients, and they have better things to do than to sort through your canned goods.”
In fact, give cash in general. “GiveDirectly wants to see what happens when you give extremely poor people a much longer runway — a guaranteed ‘basic income’ they can count on for years. Michael Faye, the chairman of GiveDirectly, says they’ve chosen to set the payment at $22 because in Kenya $22 per person per month is ‘the food poverty line — the amount of money it would take to afford a basic basket of food for yourself.'” (And so far…so good.)