With so many Christian ministries in America and Haiti collecting donations for disaster relief, it is an appropriate time to look at the effectiveness of charitable giving and as a bonus, this article includes an infographic about the history of charitable giving.
In 1987 televangelist D. James Kennedy testified before Congress and said "I would think that if a person is going to give money to something, that they have ... a responsibility to learn where it is going."
Churches are exempt but other nonprofit organizations are required by law to file a 990 form which discloses how donations are spent. You may obtain these documents from Guidestar. Ministry Watch and Charity Navigator also provide information on charitable organizations. If an organizations spends more than 40% of its income on fundraising or is not transparent in how it spends money, you may want to give your donation somewhere else.