Letter to the Editor: Biggest Bang for Your Charitable Buck

I have here some information, regarding charitable giving, extracted from my January/February 2016 issue of the AARP Bulletin. According to this publication, the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) charged four national cancer charities with defrauding consumers of $187,000,000. The Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and The Breast Cancer Society Inc. were all exposed last spring in one of the biggest busts of its kind.

Three or four years ago I came across (can’t remember where, but I made a copy) a document entitled “America’s Worst Charities.” The Cancer Fund of America, at that time, was only applying .09 percent of incoming donations to the actual cause, the remainder going to fundraising and business maintenance expenditure (including staff wages). The Children’s’ Cancer Fund of America was a little better, but not much, with only 5.3 percent of incoming funds going to the actual cause. Definitely fraudulent in nature.

Before you part with your dollars for charitable giving, try to be sure that most of those dollars are being pumped into the actual cause. The best charities spend no more than 35 cents on the dollar on additional fundraising. The worst? More than 80 percent of what’s coming in. If the organization you’re donating to is using a telemarketing firm or a professional fundraising company to gather donations, not much of your money is going to the cause. Ask the question. Be sure you get the full name of the organization you’re thinking about donating to, as many will use the name of a reputable organization, making just a small change to their name. Ask how much of your dollar goes to the cause. Does any of the money they collect go into local charities? Ask for their web address and look around the site. If you don’t see a detailed message on exactly how they are benefiting the world, where, and how their “pie” pans out (no pun intended), you probably have hit upon one of those unscrupulous organizations whose real goal is to simply line their own pockets.

I do regular charitable giving to several organizations, but I scrutinize each, so I know that what I’m able to give is getting the biggest bang for my buck.


Sharon Thill

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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