Good points. With regard to where donations go, there are ways of
making sure thay your contributions are used as you intended them.
Most people are unaware of this, but one thing that you may want to
consider if you are thinking of donating to a charity is to ask for
a copy of the organization's annual report before you write that
check. In the US all not-for-profits are required to publish their
operating budget and revenue figures in their annual report. They
are also required by law to show this to anyone who
requests it. If an organization is hesitant to show their numbers
something fishy is going on. Additionally, when making a donation
by check, the donor may "earmark" the funds on the memo line and
they must be used according to the donor's wishes. Lastly, all
audits and published figures are conducted by a third party.