How to Choose a Charity
January 14, 2008
Choosing a charity should be easy. You find a cause you support, and you send you in your check. However it is a little more complicated than simply picking a group for your donation.
Unfortunately, like everything else in this world, unscrupulous people are out there taking advantage of kind hearted individuals. For example, anybody can build a web page and set it up to take charitable donations. But, what you read is not necessarily so. While claiming to be a foundation for helping underprivileged kids, a person can rake in a ton of money-until they get caught. Yes. The scoundrels usually get caught, but will it be before they take advantage of your pocket?
I am in no way suggesting that people cease to give to those less fortunate. But, there are a couple of things you can do to make sure your money gets where you expect it to go.
First, check out the charity. Although it can profess to be a non-profit organization, it must be registered with the Federal government. If you can claim your gift as a tax deduction, it first needs to be recognized as such. If the charity is not registered with the IRS, be leery, unless it is a community fund-raiser for an individual in need. Then, you just have to trust the people collecting the monies to spend it wisely-which bring me to my second point.
Even government-recognized charitable organizations do not always spend your donation wisely. In fact, some administrator at the top may be getting rich at the expense of the needy. Before donating to a particular charity, ask to see how your donation dollar is spent. Does only 20 cents on the dollar actually get to the needy, and the rest go for a plethora of administration costs? (Personally, I would rather send my money directly, in that case).
Of course I understand that administration costs are necessary. But, why not 20 cents on the dollar go for expenses and 80 cents actually spent on the purpose for the charity. It can be done.
For example, as a former recipient of the Shriners, I know that people who donate to their burn centers and orthopedic hospitals can expect 100% of their money to go to the children needing medical attention. Shriners pay for their own expenses.
Recently, I saw an organization on the news that sends care packages to soldiers in Iraq. I am not being in any way political here. No matter how you stand on the war, there are people who are in harm’s way, missing their families, in order to do their duty. One mother thought to start a group. Now, there are 1000s, and the workers donate out of their own pockets as well. If money is an issue, they sit down and write millions of cards or help box goods.
In short, charities are a wonderful thing and kudos to you if you give. Simply be careful.
Do you know of other charities that will spend our money wisely?
All posts by Tina