Monday, June 20, 2016

Orlando Victim Donations Correct To Shun Non-Profit Charities

Let us accept as a proposition that the bulk of charities are not charities at all but sophisticated scam operations set up to part people from their hard-earned money by appeal to their generosity. We already saw it with the case of the Wounded Warriors Project and how little of the massive donations  actually made it to suffering service members. The bulk went to administration expenses and parties, such as expensive blowouts at the Broadmoor here in Colorado Springs.

Then, we also beheld how the Red Cross post-9/11 collected nearly $540 m from donors but  distributed most of it to what they regarded as other needy causes -  thereby betraying the intentions and wishes of donors. The latter intended their money to explicitly go to the families of 9/11 victims not to ancillary "needs" for which the organization believed it had to direct more funds. The intention of a donor therefore has to be respected, which is why at least the Red Cross finally corrected its error and sent the money where it was supposed to go.

Now, in the wake of the Orlando massacre, we learn  (NY Times, June 18) that the local charity One Orlando has collected nearly $7 million, all of which will be given directly to the families of those killed and wounded victims, not to third parties - mainly non-profits. Experience has taught local groups that all the non-profits do is milk the proceeds for their own take before dispatching a pittance to the actual victims. No more. OneOrlando, to its credit, has said 'enough is enough'.

Returning to my proposition, it now appears from recent reports (Mother Jones, NY Times,  Denver Post, 'In These Times') there are nearly 2 million charities. Worse, once one of them gets hold of your name and address - as well as phone number- it shares your info with others in the loop. Before you know it, the original two or three charities you've donated to have now multiplied to forty,  like so many roaches. Echoing a point made by the WSJ some two years ago,

 'It's OK to Say NO!' - 

If more people did say 'no' it would cause charities to clean up their acts and especially become more efficient, by which I mean less money used for administration fees and more given to those who actually need it.  In one article ('The More We Give', from Newsweek - before it went the way of the Dodo) we learned that giving even an intended 'one off' to a charity can elicit multiple ensuing pleas. These end up clogging your mail box, and it gets worse as they share your name -address with others.

As the piece by Aric Press put it:

"Charities ask, then ask again. Their pleas get more desperate. You give but then they ask again."

In other words, they become like crack addicts, ceaselessly looking for the next fix. Or, perhaps more generously, they have found an easy mark and now wish to milk him or her for all they're worth.

The piece also went on to observe:

"Nonprofit groups sent out 14 billion pieces of mail last year and there's no end in sight....The IRS reports a 22.4 percent growth in what's known in the tax code as 501(c)(3) charities. "

So, the smell of easy money playing off pity drives the pseudo-charity parasites to keep on keeping on, using every sleazy tactic they can summon.  The author (Press) writes that in one case he was forewarned "by the time you finish reading this letter, 18 children would have died", implying that had he given the 50 bucks or whatever they likely wouldn't have.

But as he adds: "The louder they shout, the less clear their message is amid the tumult"

And cripes, it's like they are all about one  "emergency", "desperate situation" or other. Like the prospective donor is the  last bulwark against the final collapse of civilization. Cripes, you'd think they were "editor's notes" from Kort Patterson inveighing against the threat from "the global warming conspirators"! (Jeebus, maybe Kort writes some of these charity pitches in his spare time.)

One of the most reprehensible ploys I've seen is to put a crying kid's face on the envelope, accompanied by the words - in bold red type: "Go ahead and throw me away! I knew you would!" Of course, on seeing such a crass appeal the first thing I do is toss the thing into the trash can.  No one, no charity - will profit from me by pulling on any imagined weepy chords. It just won't work and they can't be allowed to believe it will.

Another ploy is to send live checks made out to you in the envelope, with the understanding you will match or exceed the value on the check and send it back with your own. Of course, I also trash all of these because, frankly, I hate all transparent money grabbing ploys in general - whether from a political outfit (usually the DNC lately) but also uninvited charities that come barging into my mail box.

Yet another money ploy is sending coins in the money plea, attached to the response form, Well, in this case I rip the coins (usually nickels, sometimes dimes) off and add them to my change collection.

Many charities also use assorted ploys to attempt to coerce giving under the guise of  plying the would be target with "free gifts".  These may include everything from dream catchers (sent by assorted Native American organizations) to gift wrappings, greeting cards and note pads. Meanwhile, most of the free gift ploys go without response, if it's a "free gift" - ok, I take that literally. That includes the cheap calculators, "leather" gloves,  daily planners and other schlock.

Then there are the calendars. Each year 'X' charity outfits send their calendars out expecting a hefty donation in return. Not going to happen! I still have over 26 calendars stuffed in a large carton in my garage that have not been put up - given they represent a surplus (our place only has wall space for five of them). At most, I will contribute $1 and call it a day because with such excess supply the calendars are more a nuisance than anything else. Besides, giving any significant amount to each of them would ensure they harass you far into the future with their endless pleas. $1 nominally qualifies as a response but also sends the message it's not worth the cost of postage to send any more calendars in the future.

My giving now is much more restricted, mainly confined to those charities for which the bulk of money goes to the intended source not administration (e.g. St. Jude's).  To find out which charities are which go to :

As for the charities that incessantly call day in and day out, some up to four times daily, we never answer and let all calls go through the answering machine. Most are likely robo-calls anyway.

There seems to be no end in sight for the wasted time and space, not to mention paper, arising from spurious charity pleas,  but as Mr. Press advises the best plan is probably to limit charitable giving. After all, the more you give the more they will pester you, and clog your mailbox with crap - as well as fill up your answering machine with dead air or vapid jabber.

No guilt. Charities brought this on themselves!

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