You probably know that if you're interested in a company as a possible investment, you can (and should!) look up all kinds of information about it online. Did you realize that you can do the same thing with charities?

Thanks to a host of online resources, you can really dig into an organization before contributing to it. For example:

  • At www.charitywatch.org, you can look at charity ratings and reports prepared by the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP). Ratings can even be reviewed by category, so that if you want to see the top-rated charities in international relief and development, or hunger, you can do so.
  • At www.guidestar.org, you can look up info on more than a million charities, including, in many cases, the Form 990 reports they file with the IRS. These forms have a lot of information about charities, including their budgets and other key financial information.
  • At www.give.org, you can also look up gobs of reports on charities, including many tips on giving.

Join us!
Now that you're armed to research charities of interest to you, I invite you to join with us in supporting some organizations that interest us. You see, we've just kicked off our annual Foolanthropy charity drive, and we've also announced a daring goal. We're choosing to focus on one critical issue, and to make it our own: We want to eradicate financial illiteracy around the globe.

And we're not alone in pursuing this goal. Companies such as Capital One Financial (NYSE:COF), Dell (NASDAQ:DELL), and MasterCard (NYSE:MA) are all doing their part. We've got our own way of doing so, though -- by inviting our readers to nominate worthy organizations, selecting the cream of the crop, and then urging our readers to join with us in raising money for them.

In case you don't think financial literacy is the most pressing of global problems, let me try to change your mind. Did you know that 43% of adults at the lowest level of financial literacy live in poverty, compared to just 4% of those at the highest level of financial literacy? Knowing how to be smart about money can truly transform lives.

So please consider clicking over to our Foolanthropy nook to read about this year's terrific organizations. Then, if you're so inspired, chip in a few dollars. If every Fool reader chips in just a few bucks, we can easily raise millions. Please click to learn more.

Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article. Dell is a Motley Fool Inside Value recommendation and a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. Try any of our investing services free for 30 days. The Motley Fool is Fools writing for Fools.