It is often the trend that, come holiday time, families and individuals feel a greater pull to donate to charities. Though I wish this desire was present year round, I certainly welcome it when it comes. A word to the wise, however: be sure to check where your money is going.
When I worked for CARE as a fundraiser, it was always a selling point to mention that 91 percent of our funds actually went to program activities. Though some may dispute the legitimacy of this claim, the organization remains a Better Business Bureau-accredited entity; meaning, it is, essentially, what it claims to be. There are many out there, however, that cannot claim such status.
As Nicholas Kristof reported in his column Sunday, many well-intentioned organizations do not efficiently spend their budgets thus using more of the donations to pay the fundraiser than to help those for whom it exists. To be sure, every humanitarian organization, religious or secular, must support its staff and have enough to market its cause. But when 80 percent of its budget goes to this aspect of the work, there is a problem.
Take the organization Feed the Children, for example. There is perhaps no better cause than advocating for hungry children. It works abroad and at home to feed and medicate needy children. The American Institute of Philanthropy reports, however, that a mere 21 percent of its cash budget is spent on programs for the children; and $55 is spent for every $100 raised.
It’s always important to know where your money is going. The Better Business Bureau works to foster a relationship between big business and the public by taking account of organizations’ budgets and making it available for one who wishes to research.