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Here's Expert Help for Giving Wisely to WA Charities

December 23, 2010

SEATTLE - Most people want their charitable contributions to be meaningful and have an effect in their community - but it can be hard to know where to give. Now, the Seattle Foundation is offering prospective donors a closer look at local and regional nonprofit groups. Known for managing the contributions of major philanthropists, the Foundation recently began making available on its website information about the goals, finances and even the effectiveness of many Washington-based and regional nonprofits.

Mary Grace Roske, communications director for the Seattle Foundation, says the new "Giving Center" includes all types of charities, arts and conservation groups.

"You can find information about what kind of work they do, what services they offer, what programs they offer. You also can find a recent financial statement, which will give you a sense of the organization's financial condition."

Roske says the website focuses on local groups that often don't get the same amount of publicity as larger, national charities. The site can also be useful if you know exactly what cause you want to help, but are not sure how to go about it.

"For example, if you want to know who is helping homeless senior citizens in east King County, you have the ability to find one or more organizations, learn about what they're doing, read our evaluation of their work, read about issues facing seniors who are dealing with homelessness - and, should you want to, make a contribution to support their important work."

The website contains the Seattle Foundation's expert evaluations of many nonprofits, based on in-person visits - information that formerly was available only to its clients. Roske says the goal is to save donors time and legwork and ensure that donation dollars are spent wisely.

Searches can be made by issue, geographic location or type of population being served. The "Giving Center" is at (click on "Giving Center").

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - WA