Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Charity begins when they call and interrupt dinner

We get a lot of phone calls from various charities, some which sound more legit than others. Actually, we get a lot of phone calls from a service that make fundraising calls on behalf of various charities.

There has been some stuff in the papers lately about whether or not charities are legit. I also wonder how much money actually goes to help people and how much goes to cover administrative costs (like paying the guy who is calling me. Sometimes I wonder if it's a prisoner calling from jail. Some companies use them as labor and the priosoner gets to work on their people skills. I'm all about rehabiliation and job training, but really, do they have to call as I'm trying to get dinner on the table? But I digress...). The American Red Cross uses less than 10% of the money they raise for administrative costs and Catholic Relief Services uses only 4% of their funds for administrative costs. These charities are our benchmark. Scott and I have started asking each charity that calls what percentage of the funds they raise goes to cover administrative costs. If the number is more than 20%, they don't get our money.

Anyhow, I got two calls last week, both from nice men from a company called ACS that calls on behalf of various charities. When I asked the first man my question about their funds disbursement he told me proudly that only 60% of what they raise for this group goes to admin. costs. I was shocked!!! What is this group DOING with all that money? And how much does ACS charge them for calling me???? I politely informed him that they didn't meet our family's standard and that I hoped he'd have a nice evening.

Couple days later, another nice man from ACS called and I asked him my question. He told me that 80% of the funds they raise go to cover administrative costs. I nearly choked on my phone!!!!! He then told me that this was less than the national average! When I recovered my ability to speak, I informed him of what the Red Cross and CRS are able to do and that we would not be contributing to their charity. There was total silence on the other end of the phone. Well, not really. I could hear other people talking in the background, but this guy was silent. I said, "Hello? Hello-o-o-o? Anyone there? Hello?" trying to see if the nice man would speak. He didn't, so I hung up.

The moral of the story here, kids: Don't just say yes to people when they ask you for money. Ask some questions first. Even if they charity is listed with your state's Attorney General's Office, it doesn't mean that they distribute the money the way you'd like to see them do it, or the way that they should.

Thanks to T with Honey whose post here made me remember to post this.

1 comment:

T with Honey said...

Good reminder. This is yet another reason that we are upping our contribution to Catholic Charities. Less than 10% of contributions goes toward administration and overhead.