Website helps people find good charities and avoid scams

PHOENIX (FOX 10) -- The holidays bring out the best side in people, as well as the desire to open hearts and wallets for a good cause. However, one thing people don't want to do is get ripped off giving to charity. Now, there's a website that can help people. keep track of how much money goes to charity, and how much lines the pockets of the fundraisers.

According to the website, St. Vincent de Paul, an institution in Phoenix for 70 years with a mission to feed, clothe, house and heal people in need, has an outstanding four-star rating on, with a score of over 95, out of 100.

Almost all of the money donated goes to helping people, and very little goes to to overhead and fundraising.

"Well, a place like St. Vincent de Paul, with volunteers stretches dollar even farther, 95% by volunteers so a lot adds on leveraging people's time and generosity," said Shannon Clancy with St. Vincent de Paul Phoenix.

"It is important to give back and Arizonans are good at that, but they need to do their homework before pulling out their wallet," said Katie Conner with the Arizona Attorney General's Office.

That's where sites like charity navigator are helpful. It warns you about the bad ones. One group, "Help For Vets", gets a warning in red: "High Concern". The Federal Trade Commission has banned it from seeking contributions for falsely promising donors their money would help wounded and disabled veterans.

Another great tip from the Attorney General's Office: don't give cash to fundraisers who come to your door. Some of them are shady. If you really want to check out a charity in the valley, pay them a visit in person to get a feel for what they're all about.

Charity Navigator