Sunday, November 27, 2011

Charity Time


I get lots and lots of solicitations from nonprofits for donations.  Sometimes they send me gifts; I got a tote bag yesterday that is really cute.  But if a charity can send out that kind of thing, that means to me they aren’t using the money correctly.  In the case of the charity that sent me the bag, they spend over 50% of their income on “fundraising,” not the mission of the agency.  Another group calls me up every year and I’m just hang up nowadays, because they spent 85% on fundraising and don’t even do what their name implies. 

There are several websites a consumer can visit to check out these agencies and nonprofits; recently I have used Charity Navigator, but there are others.  I am very concerned about stewardship of my resources because of reading a recent review of the book Toxic Charity.  Too much of our “charity” does the same thing we conservatives accuse the federal government of doing—causing dependence, not instilling work ethic, and excusing laziness.   This goes for faith-based nonprofits as well.  As Dennis Miller says, “I don’t mind helping the helpless, but I do mind helping the clueless.” 

I am a firm believer in personal mission statements, and I have one, although I must confess I have strayed from it a bit and now it is a good time to return.  I think we should have a mission statement for our giving, too.  Choose what you firmly believe in, what you know does truly important and needed work, and focus on that.  It might be just two or three above tithing, and that’s ok.  Everybody wants my money, and I don’t make that much.  I am getting older and don’t want to have to work overtime the rest of my life; at some point I will have to retire, although that’s far out.  I see the wisdom of saving my money and using less of it on what really matters to me than giving out random checks to every agency that claims a need. 

That sounds ungenerous, but it is actually more generous in the long run.  My point is, be wise as serpents and harmless as doves;  know what is done with your money and don’t trust someone who makes a claim on your finances for the unfortunate or “deserving.”

It's Christmas time and nonprofits love to invoke middle-class guilt to get people to give.  But middle-class guilt ain't what it used to be.

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