Kelli B. Grant of Smart Money has a piece today entitled "Charities: Why It's Best To Give Close to Home." I was interviewed for the article in which Grant argues persuasively that "you might get more mileage from your contribution by giving to smaller, local organizations, rather than to the big, brand-name charities."

Grant compiles some good comparisons that show how local organizations with missions similar to national nonprofits are often more efficient with their contributions.

For example, the national organization AIDS Emergency Fund receives a middling rating from Charity Navigator, a nonprofit organization that grades charities based on fundraising efficiency, spending on programs and other measures of generosity, in part because it puts 81.9% toward programs. In contrast, a top-rated local organization with a similar mission, AIDS Foundation Houston, spends 86.8% on programs – a difference which means an extra $4.90 for every $100 donated gets passed on to the organization’s clients.

Of course, there are many other reasons beyond efficiency for giving locally, especially during difficult economic times, and Grant cites several of them. For one thing, it is easier to see your charitable gift in action. You can visit the organizations that you support and even roll up your sleeves and volunteer.
Local organizations are often run by neighbors, co-workers, or family friends. Local charities also often provide basic services that may be overlooked by national organizations. They have local knowledge that brand-named organizations often lack and can direct services and relief more effectively. They often know where the greatest needs are and how best to serve them.
Check out Grant's full article here.