Ribbons, puzzle pieces and advertisements that feature young kids with conditions that have names so long that only a doctor can pronounce them: These have become key aspects of today’s charity organizations that we see asking for donations.

If you've ever watched TV before then you know whenever you hear the Sarah McLaughlin song “In The Arms of An Angel," you’re about to be guilt tripped into donating money to save sick dogs or hungry children. Don’t get me wrong, these commercials are fantastic at what they do. They get their audience to make an emotional connection to the cause and make them feel obligated to donate “only the price of your daily cup of coffee” to the organization. But these commercials are really just marketing schemes made to look like a meaningful form of donor outreach. The problem is that there are hundreds of charities using this marketing tactic and many others for reasons other than to help people in need. These groups claim to be non-profit and tell their donors that the donated money is being put to good use, but after the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR) did an extensive investigation on this matter, these charities are far from being not-for-profit.

The year long investigation performed by the CIR in partnership with The Tampa Bay Times as well as CNN exposed the nation’s 50 worst charities for “paying their solicitors nearly $1 billion over the past 10 years that could have been given to charitable works [according to the latest 10 years of available tax filings].” This growing trend of charitable corruption is completely inexcusable. People who are looking to support a cause such as an impoverished region after a natural disaster, or a group of patients suffering from a rare condition should be able to trust the organizations they are donating to.

The fact that these corrupted charity executives have the audacity to steal not just the trust of their donors, but also the dignity of the people whom the donors are trying to support is heartless. It is bad enough that those affected have to go through the situation they are going through, but to then have the support they thought they were getting from a seemingly reputable organization ripped away from them is just demeaning.

In an effort to prevent donors from unknowingly donating to those corrupt organizations, Charitynavigator.org was created in 2001 with the sole purpose of exposing charities who are not following their strict rating system. According to their website, "Charity Navigator's rating system examines two broad areas of a charity's performance; their Financial Health and their Accountability & Transparency. Our ratings show givers how efficiently we believe a charity will use their support today, how well it has sustained its programs and services over time and their level of commitment to good governance, best practices and openness with information."

It’s important to mindful of how we donate our money to charities because if we keep allowing corrupt charities to abuse their non-profit title by allocating donations to anyone other than those in need, then all of the charity organizations whether corrupt or not will lose all the trust they worked to gain from their donors. If that happens, then there will be no way for those in need to get the full support that they require.