Actually, a friend of mine is a high level staff person at World Vision and says they are constantly under pressure to keep admin costs down and get the vast majority of money to where it belongs. There have been scandals at some places, such as the International Red Cross (not at the American Red Cross, however) , but those are the exception, not the rule. I don't know about foreign charities, but U.S. ones are regularly audited. The Washington DC chapter of United Way comes to mind. They've gotten caught at least twice funneling money to questionable things. A far greater problem is how well (or poorly) these charitable groups coordinate with each other.