Should you really donate to Charities?

HOW would you feel about giving for charities if only small portion of what you contribute goes to those in need, while all the rest will be used to pay the costs of collecting the charity funds? How would you feel about giving for charities if you knew that the president of the charity receives $ 75,000 annually in salary and expenses? I would hardly be pleased or happy about it, right? And yet such things happen, and frequently!


The amount of money given annually for charities in the United States alone is more than 400 billion dollars. Of this amount, approximately 41 percent is given for religious purposes, to health and education 16 percent each, 7 percent for charity and the rest for cultural and other purposes.


Many are the charities that ask for funds; some are known internationally, others are known locally. And there are also many reasons why people give. Some give because they believe it is a good cause or because donations can be deducted from taxes. Others give due to feelings of guilt, as if through charity they are atoning for their sins. And others give for religious or humanitarian reasons, for feelings of compassion, empathy or pity.


There is no denying that giving can result in a blessing, But if the motive of giving was wrong, then it can produce a bad result because it does not bring the benefits for needy.


True, there is a blessing if one gives for the right reasons, but it is reasonable for a person to want the guarantee that he is giving is going for worthy causes. To what extent are the billions given to charitable organizations used are to help people, and to what extent do those operating these supposed philanthropic organizations are running it for commercial gain?


In the name of religion

About this issue of giving and the methods that are used, a California newspaper presented an article entitled: "Too much goes for CEOs, professionals are blamed for high collection costs." This is done in the following citation from the president of the "Appeals Council" of the local city: "The most rude goals of charities" are those made "in the name of God." He continued by saying: "Religious groups and those who collect in the name of the Lord are the worst offenders."


Providing some support for that accusation there was an article that appeared a few years ago in Ramparts. It accused one of the leading Roman Catholic bishops of the United States of perpetrating "a charitable deception" on American Catholics with his fundraising organization known as "The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples." The author, who had interviewed thirty-five bishops in various underdeveloped places on Earth, declared: “The congregation collects millions of dollars every year, ostensibly to help the world's poor people. . . but it is probably one of the greatest charity frauds of all time. ” When these accusations were brought to the attention of the bishop he refused interviews to discuss them and his office declared that he "had nothing to say."


Serving without lucrative interest?

It is generally believed that those who serve with charitable organizations are driven by altruism, but is this always true? For example, for many years a charitable organization was asking for money to help feed the orphans of the East, which claimed that it could do for $ 12 a month per orphan. But was the president of that organization primarily interested in those orphans? He received the same salary of $ 20,000 he received when he was executive director of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce.


Another example was provided by Basil O'Connor, who was a founder associated with President Franklin Roosevelt of the National Foundation ... the March of Dimes, and who was the president of the foundation since it was started in 1938 until his Death in 1972. Although he initially only received his expenses, but during the last thirteen years he received an annual salary of $ 54,000 and money for expenses up to $ 21,405. How many people who contributed to the March of Dimes were aware of the fact that their president was paid $ 75,000 a year? Would you feel the same about giving, knowing this? Wouldn't you feel perhaps what you could do better is by giving directly and personally to those you know are in need?


High collection costs

Well known charitable organizations, which are known nationally, such as the Red Cross, consider that a collection cost of 10 to 15 percent is reasonable and fair. So, of every dollar that is contributed, 85 to 90 cents should go to charities. But many charitable organizations are far from reaching this figure. So the American Kidney Foundation raised more than $ 779,000 during its first year (1971-1972). But only 5 percent, or $ 39,000, went to patient care; the rest was used for “administrative expenses,” according to the New York Post , June 8, 1973.


Spreading this weakness of charity campaigns, a newspaper in Seattle, Washington, presented on its first page a main title that read: "Ridiculous high costs of charity campaigns." He related a case in which the charity received only $ 25,000 of the $ 500,000 that had been ostensibly collected for it, or a mere 5 percent.


Under the title: "Pirates of charity: they prey on the naive," a Canadian newspaper not long ago described the way in which certain professionals operate the charity campaigns. First, they induce some religious organization to sponsor the campaign, promising a portion of the contributions received. To begin, they hire experienced men to request contributions by phone. They get 25 cents for every dollar they help to get. Then a collector, usually a woman, visits to collect what has been promised by phone, and she gets 15 cents of every dollar she collects. The promoter gets 40 cents of each dollar, leaving 20 cents for charity and the organization that sponsors the campaign.


Recognizing the danger of selfish exploitation of charity campaigns, the president of the American Association of the Fundraising Council, Inc., recommended: “No one, under any circumstances, should contribute to any charity as a result of the phone call of a stranger. ”


Give to the individual beggar?

In many large cities throughout the world, begging has become a profitable way to make a living. Prominent among those who resort to that are young hippies. The beggar no longer has to claim blindness, lameness or poverty. Obviously any one can do it. So there is the beggar of San Francisco who boasts of collecting as much as $ 400 per week from tourists who visit the city's Japanese sanctuary.


Even better are the results of the New York violinist who frequents the theater district. Because he plays pretty well, and especially because his sign says: "Violinist needs money to continue studies," he can really trigger emotions of people. As a result, he collects an average of $ 35 per hour. In addition, he has received checks, savings, cameras, watches and even invitations for dinner and pleasure trips to the Caribbean.


True, there may be times when the beggar is in real need, being willing to work but physically limited or unable to find employment. In times of natural disaster, hunger, or severe economic failure, people in need are really in need. So it's a matter of doing what you can with what you have to help others in their needs.


A balanced point of view

There is no doubt about it, as Jesus said: "You always have the poor with you. And he also said, that there is happiness in giving, in being altruistic, in being useful. But to be credulous is to reward the greedy or those who are too lazy to work. Since there are deserving people and deserving causes, one has to practice discrimination. So the saying spent by time: "Let the buyer take care of himself," could well be changed to, "Let the giver take care of himself."

And, of course, those who are Christian ministers are in a position to give something much better than silver and gold. And what is that? The truth and honesty, which brings comfort, hope, peace of mind and that can even result in eternal life.


Key Stats and Facts

The following information from the The Overhead Myth website shows that the overhead ratio is imprecise and inaccurate when it comes to measuring a nonprofit's true performance:


- 37% of nonprofit organizations with private contributions of $50,000 or more reported no fundraising or special event costs on their 2000 Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Form 990

- Nearly 13% of operating public charities reported spending nothing for management and general expenses (Source: The Nonprofit Overhead Cost Study), and further scrutiny found that 75-85% of these organizations were incorrectly reporting the costs associated with grants.

- A 2006 CompassPoint Nonprofit Services study of nearly 2,000 nonprofit executives in eight metropolitan areas revealed that receiving general operating support played a major role in reducing burnout and stress among executive directors (Source: Daring to Lead 2006 ..A National Study of Nonprofit Executive Leadership). 

- In 2011, the charities which GiveWell reviewed and recommended had higher overhead than the charities they review and didn't recommend, 11.5% versus 10.8% (Source: Giving Evidence).



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