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We have been on both sides of charitable organizations. We have donated time and money. We have also unfortunately been on the side where we needed help from charities. As apartment managers, we have seen tenants in need of help also.

Here is our OPINIONS of some of the charities that we have had experience with.

Society of St. Vincent de Paul
This is the BEST organization that actually helps people in need. We have seen this charity help with rent payments, and also with food. 
Buddhist Tzu Chi Foundation
Anyone can apply at this charity - not just Buddhists. This non profit group provides food and also helps with other money problems. Do not expect immediate money help, but if you qualify and give them a week or two and they will help. Their food carts are very good.
Lets Say Thanks
Although not a true charity, this organization allows people to send thank you cards to our troops - those risking their lives to protect our homes, and our freedom.
Salvation Army
Not very helpful. For rent help, you need to call on a certain day AFTER you get your five day notice to pay or quit. Then if you are lucky enough to be one of the first few callers, they make an appointment a few day away. They require you have all the money to pay your rent, and they will pay the last #100. Unfortunately any other charities will not give you the check, but pay the landlord directly. Food bags are non-existent unless you are able to get there early. For thanksgiving turkeys, we found out at the last minute, and arrived 15 minutes before the deadline. We watched as the person behind the desk was on the phone for 25 minutes. Then she said we were too late to get a turkey. We rate the Salvation Army useless as a charity, and will no longer contribute to this charity.

The above are our opinions based on experiences with the charities. Other people may have different experiences.