Recently I was discussing various charities with a few friends and made the statement that I try to never walk by a Salvation Army red kettle without dropping some folding money through the slot. The ringing of the SA bell to me is just as much a part of Christmas as is Santa Claus.
Over the years, when tragedy strikes, my wife and I, to the degree we’re able, will write a check to a charity of our choice. That charity is often the Salvation Army. It doesn’t bother me that they are a religious based organization. All that matters is when disaster strikes the Army is often first on the scene, feeding people, and not asking questions about personal religious affiliations.
At one time our charity of choice was the Red Cross. But someplace we began thinking that the RC was not using their revenues in the most efficient way. When you look at a charity one measurement is the amount of money is actually spent on services. Some charities pay their CEOs too much money and their operating expenses come close to equaling what goes to those they serve.
I’m sure our feelings about the RC were based on the findings of a reputable website, such as Charity Navigator, that monitors a huge number of charities in America. This morning I revisited their site and found that the American Red Cross now receives their highest rating of four stars. The Salvation Army is not rated because it is a religious based charity and not required to make its financial data public.
Charity Navigator has a number of “10 Most” lists. One is the “10 Inefficient Fundraisers” charities and looking down the list reminded me of all the phone calls I get from “police charities” seeking my support. I question them all, hang up quickly, and never write them a check. The cited list makes me feel justified with my decision.
Reading through the “10 Charities in Deep Financial Trouble” list makes it clear that in these troubled times the fine arts are not doing well.
Last night I was watching some videos on the website Funny or Die. Two that I enjoyed had Will Ferrell portraying President George W. Bush and you can imagine Dubya didn’t come off looking good. Well, he doesn’t come off looking very good on the list of low rated charities either. His George Bush Presidential Library Foundation only gets a single star. The irony is that in Ferrell’s video he mentioned his plans for a library and his description sounded more like he was planning a Chuck E. Cheese’s pizza rather than a center of learning.
Anyway, as you begin your year and give some considerations to who you’ll give a little help to in the coming months, you may want to do a little research at one of the many sites that rate charities. Charitable dollars are in short supply and it serves everyone if the bulk of those limited dollars actually end up in the hand of those in need.
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