More scams -- and more CREATIVE scams.
All the more reason why you should be careful about giving to charities.
First, you should only shop charities that are properly registered with your state. In Tennessee, charities register with the Secretary of State's Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming:
Mississippi charities register with the Mississippi Secretary of State's Regulation & Enforcement Division:
The Arkansas attorney general regulates Arkansas charities:
You can search those databases for charities' registration records, percentages of collections, etc.
Professional solicitors for those charities must be registered, too. You should be able to determine how much of each donated dollar the solicitor keeps for administrative costs.
The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance tracks charities and their behavior:
If you are a member of a church, you should see if it donates to any charities. Chances are your church's administrators have heavily vetted those charities since the church is donating members' tithes to those causes.
Consider registered charities that raise their own funds, like St. Jude Children's Research Hospital: www.stjude.org/donate. St. Jude needs no introduction when it comes to its success in treating children with terminal illnesses.
Le Bonheur Children's Medical Center has its own foundation for raising funds: https://secure.lebonheur.org/lebonheur/Ways+to+Help/Donate+Now. It's expanding the number of beds and facilities, so it could use your generosity. It will be well spent!