By Thomas D. Hammerschmidt

Many people support their favorite local charities or those that address medical research or treatment in a particular area, maybe as a result of an illness or death of an acquaintance or family member, for example, the ALS Association or the American Cancer Society.

However, many people also donate to charities that are less known to them, including in response to telephone or U.S. Mail solicitations, as part of their annual charitable giving “budget.”

There are a number of internet resources that allow people to research charities for information on the portion of contributions actually used for charitable purposes, as opposed to the payment of excessive salaries, administration costs or the services of outside fundraisers.

Check out the Nonprofit Explorer resource maintained by Pro Publica, for example, at, or the research tool at You can also access your state’s Attorney General’s office to “vet” a charity before you donate.

For further information, please contact Thomas D. Hammerschmidt in our Ann Arbor, Mich. office at 734-623-1602.