donating questions

Illustration: Florie Duhau

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Adopt a dolphin! A beehive! A square foot of the rainforest! These types of campaigns are appealing because they offer the promise of tangible results. But there are plenty of hucksters who prey on human sympathy, so find out how your donation will be used. Charity Navigator is implementing a "results reporting" component, so you can see how well a nonprofit tracks its impact. (Typically, you're not really sponsoring one animal or planting one tree; instead, your money goes into a pool of funds that support the cause.) Some groups make it easy to understand how you're helping: Charity: Water, for example, has maps of the water projects it has completed around the globe.