Sites like Charity Navigator and GiveWell can help differentiate ineffective or fraudulent charities from those that give you the very best bang for your donation buck.
GiveWell, for example, uses criteria including strong evidence of positive impact on people's lives, highly cost-effective activities, room for more funding, and transparency and accountability to donors to determine which philanthropic organizations deserve your financial support.
They list the Against Malaria Foundation, GiveDirectly, and the Schistosomiasis Control Initiative as their top-rated charities.
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