There was a story in the news this weekend about the CEO of Make-A-Wish Iowa that was charged with embezzling funds. The former CEO was arrested on felony charges alleging that she stole tens of thousands of dollars from the charity that gives wishes to seriously sick children.

Of course the story made me angry. It's tough enough for these charities to solicit funds to keep fulfilling the needs of so many people they serve. To embezzle the funds that were given to the charity from hard working people is reprehensible, it's literally disgusting.

I've always made a commitment to help those in need and being in the limelight here in New Jersey, I've used the power of New Jersey 101.5 to help out great local charities. In the 24 years that I've been on New Jersey 101.5, I've assisted in raising over $62 million for those in need, mostly for New Jersey based charities.

I've been duped into supporting charities that either misdirected funds or lied about the intentions of the charity. When that happened, I then became very diligent of vetting each charity I came to promote or participate in. As a result I have limited my involvement to about 20 charities here in NJ that I know for a fact meet the high standards and are worthy of your hard earned money and donations.

There are many "online charity checker" sites that claim to check out a potential charity organization for you. Be careful of these as they may use your information to gauge your willingness to give and then pitch those charities that have purchase spots on their list.

If you want to give to a charity that you are unfamiliar with you can ask for their 501(c)(3) status and EIN number that is registered with both New Jersey and the federal government. Go on the New Jersey Consumer Affairs website and look up their status to see if they're still an active charity and that they're compliant, meeting all the registration requirements with the state as a charity or fund raising organization.

In addition I like to use Charity Watch which is a free service that rates most charities. I look for charities that use no less than 80% of all donations for the actual mission of their organization. I totally get that operating a charity costs money, but if they can't run their charity on 20% of the money collected, then I personally pass on promoting the charity to you.

To give you an example Special Olympics New Jersey gives close to 90% of every dollar collected back to the programs that serve the 25,000 athletes. There are many others with the same story. I take it personally if I present a charity to you and ask for your support. As always thank you and please continue to help those in need, but just make sure they're doing the right thing.

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