I just watched a clip on HLN about the Boys and Girls Club of America, where some are investigating/debating the CEO's apparent 1+million dollar income (2008). HLN posed this question to its viewers "Do you think the govt needs to look into all taxpayer funded charities?"
While I don't condone govt dipping into everything, I have had issues with many major charities over the years, and no longer donate to some of them because of what I have learned. For example, a friend of mine went to Ethiopia in 2008 with a major world renowned charity organization and said that after they spent the day working with people suffering from extreme poverty, they went back to their 5 star hotel and were 'fed like kings'. She said she felt bad eating all that food after spending time with people in such dire conditions. THAT is where a lot of the money people around the world donate is going. WHAT? I've spoken about this before on this blog. It aggravates me to the core. I understand having to pay some hotel, flight, and food costs or how will the volunteers get to war torn or disaster torn countries? But five star hotels? REALLY? And five star food every day? WHAT? No thanks. My friend no longer works there, largely because of that. She was not a volunteer either, only about 1/3 of the people on that particular mission were unpaid, the rest were paid their usual wages plus extra bonuses. I was shocked because for decades I assumed that organization gave the lion's share of donations to the people it was helping - and I now discovered that they don't. Perhaps the Boys and Girls Club is the same? Many charities are like this and it is very difficult to find out where the money actually goes.
I recently saw someone in a group being very disappointed that she had to raise a minimum of $2000 in order to enter the Weekend for Breast Cancer. It's the same total in the US and Canada. If you do not raise the 2 thousand, you can't go in. Now, I understand that there is a lot of work involved in this weekend walk - security, check points, advertising, water, food, etc. But.... a lot more people would be able to enter if there was not such a large expectation of minimum donations raised. I am not dissing the cancer society, I am just passing on what other people have mentioned for many years. If someone says the minimum donation level is needed to cover excess costs, then is it not safe to assume that the majority of your $2000 money is NOT going to cancer research, but going to these excess costs instead? That is a lot of money to raise per entrant across North America so I think we should be able to know where every penny is spent. And perhaps more places should do their best to have the lowest possible operating costs, instead of constantly increasing them on top of the CEOs getting a cool million or more in their pockets.
There are smaller charities that really struggle because they rely largely on volunteers, do not spend money on advertising campaigns, and most of the money really does go directly to who they are intending to help. Those are the ones I personally choose to support. I might take a load of toys or clothing to an aide for my local Women's Shelter, or take food or cash to the local Food Bank, or pass on money to a church missionary friend who is heading to Haiti or Asia. Or I might donate my old eyeglasses to an optometrist that reuses them for someone in need, etc etc. I have not given to a large charity group for many years, other than supporting friends who are in various cancer relays. I gave a small amount to the Red Cross for Haiti, but found out about a local man that goes down there personally (has done for years) so next time I want to donate I will be contacting him instead.
Just something to think about.
Oops I was in a rush and forgot about Doctors Without Borders. From what I have heard, this organization does good work. My old family doc from the UK took a 6 month sabbatical to work with them in Northern Africa. That kind of big organization needs big bucks for equipment and medical specialty items that poorer regions simply could not even think of affording otherwise. So that is one 'big ticket' organization I have supported and will continue to support when I can. Some of them will help train local medical staff in what we might think of as a simple everyday technique, but which had not been taught to rural areas in underdeveloped countries and that can make a huge difference to the lives of countless people. I recall watching a documentary about teaching nurses in Africa to perform c-sections and how the maternal/child mortality rates dropped dramatically in those regions. Simple quick techniques for healing women who had ruptured their bladder during childbirth, which then caused them to be ostracized from their communities (odor, embarrassment, etc) was something else that changed lives. I believe there is a lot we can do to help other areas if we are inclined to do so - the challenge is finding the best group to get the most of our donations there in the best manner possible.