Friday, December 09, 2005

Check Your Charity

'Tis the season to give, but be sure your dollars are spent wisely. ABC had a special on how programs targeting the poor are getting less and less money, while nonprofits servicing the opera or a museum are awash in cash. Now is a good time to reevaluate your priorities, and think of those unfortunate brethren suffering the winter.

On that note, do take the time to investigate the charity you plan to give to. Some of the web sites to do this are Charity Navigator, and to name a couple. I was surprised by some information I found on the former site:

  • Habitat For Humanity gets a one-star rating, spending only about 75% of its money on program expenses (i.e. actual charity work)! It spends 22 cents on fundraising for every dollar it gets!
  • The American Red Cross does get 4 stars, but still spends 18 cents on the dollar on fundraising, and has a CEO making a salary in excess of $450,000!
  • By and large, the smaller charities do a better job, in my opinion. For example, among charities that do work in India (where I'm from), one of the standout groups, Asha for Education, spends just a cent on a dollar on fundraising, spends almost 98% of its budget on program expenses, and does not pay its CEO!

That's not to condemn any of the larger charities, just to say do your homework. And remember, as my friend's dad used to tell him,
Make all you can,
Save all you can,
Give all you can.

1 comment:

Kanshu said...

Great Blog. The problem with some of the smaller charity is that some of them (not most of them) are ethno-centric and hence help their own people rather than a wide range of helpless people. This was seen in the aftermath of the tsunami in Sri Lanka where muslim and tamil masses were not provided help by the Government or charities generally registered in Sri Lanka.

On the other hand, the red cross has been tirelessly working to help civilians even prior to the tsunami. With Red cross, at least I know there is no discrimation with its funds.

Having said that, I am sure there are many small organisations thats are not ethno-centric.