It's been six months since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.
Today, victims were remembered at a special ceremony.
After the tragedy, Americans opened their hearts -and wallets - and sent over $15 million to help those victims and their families.
We've been following what happened to that money and tonight we can report most of that money - over $10 million- has still not been given out.
What’s going on in Newtown is just one example of the problems in the charitable world. There are plenty of others. In fact, we recently talked about America’s Worst Charities – and if you missed that segment, you can find it here on gerriwillis.com. I’ve already heard from friends and family who say they gave money to some of these loser charities who send pennies on a dollar to those in need.
Frankly, it’s up to you to check out charities. Here are three things you need to know to make sure your charitable dollars aren’t being thrown away:
1.) First off, don’t give money to an organization that calls you asking for donations. More than likely, they’ve hired a telemarketing firm to raise money – and THAT siphons off money that could actually help people. Instead, pick out a cause you truly believe in and find the most responsible charity operator you can.
2.) If you want to give in the wake of a tragedy like Newtown, pick an established charity and then designate those dollars for the victims of the event so that your generosity isn’t siphoned off to the general fund or to a “future crisis” that doesn’t serve the cause you want to help.
3.) Make sure the charity you choose is spending a large proportion of dollars on the cause. The most efficient charities spend 75 percent of their budget on their programs and services and less than 25 percent goes to fundraising and administration. Charitynavigator.org provides analysis for free on their website.
Gerri Willis is the host of "The Willis Report" (5PM/ET), a primetime program that covers the leading financial and political stories of the day and their impact on consumers. Click here to see more from Gerri Willis.