You receive a solicitation in the mail for a well-known charity. They have included address labels, a small note pad, and some pretty stickers to elicit a little guilt in case you were thinking of tossing the solicitation into the trash. Their guilt tactics work and you send ten dollars to the charity. Within two weeks, you receive 25 more solicitations form charities of all kinds. How do you know which ones are legitimate; which ones do the most with the money you give; and which ones share your value system?
Once you give to a charity, the organization sells your name and mailing address to other charities. This is why you begin to receive tens of dozens more solicitations throughout the year. This is one major source of income to the charities. If you do not wish to have your information sold, make a written request stating this when you send your check to the organization. They may honor your request immediately, or you may have to ask more than once.
How can you know what your money buys, what services are provided by the charity, and how much money is used for administration and other expenses? Go to http://www.Give.org and look up your charity. You will find a report showing all services provided, all expenses, and a total of money on hand for the charity to directly use on its stated purpose. You will also find the salaries and benefits of the CEO and all other paid employees. Charity Navigator is another excellent online site to search a particular charity before donating.
Some charities pay their CEO in excess of $800,000 a year. Others pay between $300,000 and $500,000 a year. It is a matter of personal choice, but most people earning less than $30,000 a year are not comfortable donating money to charities who pay such high salaries to the CEO and other administrators. There is no way to know how much the CEO donates to his own charity, but this information might change the way a person feels about donating.
Research shows that Map International, a Christian charity, pays the CEO $131,676 a year. This is a reasonable salary. Information revealed shows that this charity uses 98.2% of the money received to directly fund its programs. Map International provides medicines, medical care, vaccines, and methods of disease prevention to all countries on earth, wherever the need arises. Without Map International, millions of children would die each year all across the globe. This charity receives a high rating.
The Salvation Army is another Christian charity that provides much needed services in America and wherever the need is greatest. Those who work in administration are paid reasonable salaries. This charity helps during natural disasters, providing temporary shelter, food, and clothing. This is also provided for individuals whose homes have burned to the ground. The Salvation Army assists people addicted to alcohol and drugs in receiving rehabilitation, food, and counseling. They stock and run food pantries all across the United States. This is only a partial list of services they provide.
The American Red Cross has been plagued with mishandling of funds and diverting funds solicited for one cause to fund another. People should research their local chapter of the Red Cross and decide whether to support this charity. Information can be found at redcross.org.
Many charities duplicate services. There are tens of dozens of charities set up for the purpose of feeding people in need, all across the globe. If these charities merged into one or two charities, millions of dollars in administrative costs could be saved each year and used to feed more people. This may be a consideration when deciding to donate.
Many people donate to local food banks and other local or regional charities after paying tithes to their local churches. Church-sponsored charities are another option. Always ask to see financial reports before making a decision. Some opportunities to give locally will happen only occasionally, such as community members needing an expensive surgery, a home needing a wheelchair ramp or a family needing help to pay for the funeral of a child. Don’t just give money until you have had the chance to talk to a local official or someone trusted to give all the facts concerning the need.
People making thirty thousand dollars a year, or less, are responsible for 99% of all donations to charities each year. It is extremely important to research a charity before giving. Make sure your money is actually being used for the service for which it was solicited. Check out the salary of the CEO and that of other administrators. Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the charity. Ask friends and relatives which charities they support.
Depending on your belief and value system, your religion, and illnesses that run in your family, the list of charities you donate to will differ from that of someone else. Each person should research any and all charities before giving. Check the charities at least once a year. The financial report, paid administrators, amount of debt and amount in assets could change drastically from year to year. Give wisely.