Today is Memorial Day, a holiday in the United States for us to remember our fallen solders. Unfortunately, in many ways, the holiday's purpose has been forgotten and people think of it simply as the beginning of the summer.
But while you're out today, at a barbecue or a picnic, take a look around and notice the extra American flags flying. Consider flying one outside your house.
And while you're out, you may also see signs up for various charities supporting our soldiers, our veterans, and their families. There are so very many amazing charities out there. I'm personally familiar with the Fisher House Foundation and TAPS, but there are hundreds upon hundreds of great charities doing great work who would appreciate your time or your money.
But buyer beware. Not all of the charities out there are doing the great work they say they are. Personally, I use Charity Navigator to research charities. This is a free site that evaluates all kinds of charities and reports on their Financial Health and their Accountability and Transparency. They use a scoring system, which makes it quite easy to learn a bit more about the charity you choose. The two that I mentioned above both get high marks from Charity Navigator.
And the site doesn't just evaluate military charities. They have a great page featuring "Hot Topics" so if you're looking to donate to a recent crisis, like the earthquake in Nepal, you can quickly find a great charity doing work in that area. And you can also do your best to avoid the charities who may be misusing the money or not using it to the best of their abilities.
They also have an entire page of tips for donors, so that even if the charity isn't rated by their organization, you can figure out if that charity is a good place for you to put your money. There are so many great causes out there and it's so easy to be overwhelmed by all of the information that is being thrown at you, so it's wonderful to have an easy place to find information and make sure that the work that you want to support is actually being done by the group you help fund.
Now, go enjoy your Memorial Day. And take a minute to remember a fallen soldier and thank him or her for the sacrifice.