The other day I got a call from a fellow raising money for the local troubled teenagers program run by the county sheriff. I thought this was a worthy cause, so I agreed to give $20 - won't change the world, I know but I am a bit short these days - (see previous post).
My fund raising fellow then brought a lady on the call who proceeded to read me the fine print of the terms of my donation, the most relevant part being that only a portion of my $20 would find its way to the charity. After she had finished speed reading her legal mumbo jumbo and had left the call, I asked my fellow just how much of my $20 would wind up helping troubled youths. His answer floored me.
Just $2.00 of my $20 - or 10% would be given to the charity. Now I understand that it takes money to make money, and there are expenses - but seriously. If it had been $2.00 in expenses and $18 going to the charity, that would have been jolly good by me. As it stands, the charity cited in the phone call is what I would call "pretense expense" for a company whose main line of business is phoning up folks and asking them for money. When people do this in person, it is called "panhandling".
The moral of this story? Know your charity - find them before they find you, and give directly to them - do not respond to random requests for money, by phone or by mail (no matter how many nickels they send - keep 'em.) Money is tight these days and the need is bigger than ever - distribute your donation dollars wisely.