OK, I should immediately preface this by saying that I have been involved with many charities, in many capacities, as a volunteer and as a paid employee, for over 35 years. I say this for the same reason another person, when offering an opinion, might preface their comments with their credentials ( so to speak ) to show they have some knowledge of what they’re speaking or writing about.
Recently someone made a post, on another site, about a particular internet charity site ( I seriously doubt she was aware of what she was promoting )…as I am well aware of how many fraudulent, unethical, manipulative, or misleading ‘ causes ‘ there are out there in our big bad World, the first thing I did was check it out. And by ‘ check it out ‘ I don’t mean just check their website ( which I did as well ).
The site was a ‘ click to give ‘ site that appeared to host several causes. Upon further investigation it was revealed that, the site and all the benefactors on the site, were owned by a for-profit commercial fundraising outfit. And the money, that they claimed went straight to charity, apparently, according to their financial statement for June 2010 went to a charity that they also owned. As that financial statement declared only one charity ( their own ) who was utilizing their services. It was also revealed from that same document that only 19% of all the money raised was going to charity. Most legitimate charities such as the ones I’ve dealt with in Canada spend 80% of all money raised on charitable activities, in fact in Canada it’s the law.
So…this site, in question, raised, in their fiscal year ending June 2010 $20,581,758…of which $3,871,511 went to, presumably, their own charity that they control, and pocketed the remaining $16,710,247. Which isn’t illegal, they aren’t a charity so they have no obligation to give more than the 19% that they did. However…
their site/s are geared toward charitable giving. So there is a presumption made that most of the money is going to charitable activities. When, in fact, most of the money is going into their pockets. They are ‘ using ‘ these causes to garner income for themselves, and giving just enough to charity ( again one that they own ) to show the minimal requirement to avoid being outright fraudulent.
I have no problem with someone making money, but…I find it misleading, manipulative, and unethical to do it on the backs of ‘ causes ‘, without being completely upfront about it. I also find it misleading, manipulative, and unethical to take advantage of gullible, naive, and/or kind-hearted people who, upon looking at the site/s would conclude at face value that it was altruistic.
I have long been an advocate of ‘ look before you give ‘. Many years ago I even started a company specifically to warn people about fraudulent, manipulative, or misleading ‘ causes ‘. Ironically I had to shut it down because I couldn’t get the proper funding for it. People should not automatically assume that the charity they are giving to is even a charity, many are for-profit fundraisers who give just enough of what they take in to avoid criminal charges. Some are legitimate charities, some you might think are great, who don’t play by the rules or cook the books. For instance there is a very popular charity that is a household name who spent the greater part of it’s existence spending almost all of the money it raised from the goodwill of others on fundraising to make even more money while doing little to nothing ‘ charitable ‘.
Many charities don’t even comply with requests for financial information. All registered charities in Canada have to, by law, submit annual tax forms just like everyone else. Even though they are exempt from paying taxes they are still required to make an accounting of what they did with the money they raised. As it should be.
Don’t be a spur-of-the-moment giver. Take the time to research who you are giving your money to, and how they plan to use your money. Don’t assume that just because a charity is popular, or well-established, that it is a good charity to give to. And don’t assume that something that ‘ looks ‘ like a charity actually is a charity, because many times it’s not. If you don’t know how to research a charity then find someone who does ( like the company I tried to get rolling ) who can provide you with the information you need to make ‘ informed ‘ decisions.
‘ Look, before you give! ‘