Saturday, June 22, 2013

Charities: Follow the Money Trails

The red kettle is where you should be your charitable money. Let's find out who to avoid.
Recently a news story broke about an aunt of the Newtown school shooting victim collecting money for…herself. She had set up a bogus charity that people around the world were contributing to in the belief that they were helping. They were helping her to a nice car, a better wardrobe and exotic vacations. How can you be charitable and not be ripped off?
Whenever a disaster happens, either natural or manmade, charities spring up and most of them are fraudulent. If you want to give money to victims of a disaster often, you have better chance of donating supplies to a local drive that is sending supplies. A couple cases of water to hurricane victims is more likely to get there than the ten dollars you sent via an online contribution site.
This has become such a problem that the Tampa Bay News revealed fifty of the worst offenders. Despite the fact that they collected millions of dollars often less than 1% went to the cause they supposedly represented. They used names with the emotional labels such as veterans, kids, children, cancer, police, state troopers, wish, and most importantly breasts. People will throw all sorts of money at breast cancer or at least at ‘charities’ that pretend to raise funds for breast cancer.
In the documentary Pink Ribbons, oncologists complain that they never see any money from all these pink ribbon projects. Less than one percent goes into research. The rest promotes more campaigns and events and disappears into the pockets of administrators. This is similar to a bold family who started their own drive.
A family at my school used chicken buckets covered with white paper, wrote Johnson Family Fund on it, and set up their own roadblock. Their son proudly told me they collected over two hundred dollars and went out to eat that night. Did anyone wonder what they were contributing to? How do you know a charity is legitimate?
Technically an organization has to file the legal paperwork to become a non-profit organization. Failure to do so does not stop them from advertising, having a website or soliciting funds. However, many organizations are legit they just never get the money to where you thought it was going. It takes a detour through several different hands.
Did someone contact you for this charity? I used to get calls all the time for the widows and orphans of state troopers victim fund. It sounded like a phone bank. Still, it seemed like a good cause until a state trooper explained that they took care of their own, and not by soliciting.
Those direct mail letters asking you to help fight against a disease are administrator heavy. Very few if any money gets to where the name states it will go. Often these organizations get mailing lists of cancer victims’ family under the ruse of helping them. I can only hope HIPPA regulation put an end to this practice. You would be better offer just sticking money in an envelope and giving it to someone who has cancer.
Tampa Bay listed the less well-known offenders. Do you know who the big guns are? Snopes listed the top money earning charities padding their name recognition and executive pockets.
1.       Unicef
2.       Goodwill
3.       The United Way
4.       World Vision
 Goodwill’s CEO collects almost 700,000 and benefits compare this to the Salvation Army’s CEO who collects a mere $13,000 for the two billion dollar organization.
Moved to give a dollar to the March of Dimes, consider only a dime is for the children, the other ninety percent is going elsewhere.  Images of big eyed children starving in other lands cause you to write out a check to World Vision. Consider World Vision president receives a base salary of $300,000 with home valued at $800,000 with maid service, and all utilities paid. His children receive their private schooling paid for with World Vision funds. He also receives a luxury automobile, generous food and clothing allowance and free high-speed cable and Internet. He also has a hefty expense account to treat folks who could benefit himself or World Vision. Ironically, none of this is taxable because it is a religious organization.
Next time, you feel moved to give. You’re better off throwing your money into Salvation Army’s red kettle. At least you’ll know it will go to where you think it will as opposing to paying for  someone else’s exotic vacation or private school tuition.

No comments:

Post a Comment