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When it comes to making donations, many of us have felt some angst in deciding where our money can do the most good. We often hear stories of 'charities' that are less than...  charitable. In a recent report by Adrienne Hill on NPR's Marketplace, Americans give more to charities, per capita, than any other developed country. In 2011, we gave $200 billion dollars.

Tampa Bay Times compiled a list of the Top 50 worst charities. Many names of the worst charities are very similar to legitimate charities. For instance, the number one worst charity, Kids Wish Network, sounds much too similar to, Make A Wish Foundation a legitimate respected organization, where donations go to helping very sick children see one of their dreams come true. With the Kids Wish Network, only 2.5% the $127.8 million they raised, went to direct cash aid. So where did the other millions go? $109 million of it went to paying solicitors to raise the money.

According to Kendall Taggart, of The Center For Investigating Reporting, many charities exist pretty much to pad the pockets and salaries of their founders. Often the value of goods that are shipped overseas cannot be verified. And then there are charitable goods shipped domestically that are outright insults to the recipients. One cancer victim in Knoxville, Tennessee, reached out to Cancer Fund of American to help with medical costs. He received a package containing paper cups, napkins and plates, along with children's toys, you know, things that help a cancer patient pay for medical costs. The patient's wife was so disgusted, she threw the entire package away.

Thankfully, there are a few reputable organizations online that can help us search charities to differentiate the good from the unscrupulous.

Here are the 50 of the worst charities, with the first being the worst. They are ranked by how much they raise, how much goes to pay the fund-raising solicitors, and how much goes to the actual charity. The title link above the list, will bring you to a page with an interactive chart and  more information about charities in general.

America's 50 Worst Charities

1.  Kids Wish Network
2.  Cancer Fund of America
3.  Children's Wish Foundation International
4.  American Breast Cancer Foundation
5.  Firefighters Charitable Foundation
6.  Breast Cancer Relief Foundation
7.  International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
8.  National Veterans Service Fund
9.  American Association of State Troopers
10.Children's Cancer Fund of America

11. Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation
12. Youth Development Fund
13. Committee For Missing Children
14. Association for Firefighters and Paramedics
15. Project Cure (Bradenton, FL)
16. National Caregiving Foundation
17. Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth
18. United States Deputy Sheriffs' Association
19. Vietnow National Headquarters
20. Police Protective Fund

21. National Cancer Coalition
22. Woman To Woman Breast Cancer Foundation
23. American Foundation For Disabled Children
24. The Veterans Fund
25. Heart Support of America
26. Veterans Assistance Foundation
27. Children's Charity Fund
28. Wishing Well Foundation USA
29. Defeat Diabetes Found
30. Disabled Police Officers of America Inc

31. National Police Defense Foundation
32. American Association of the Deaf & Blin
33. Reserve Police Officers Association
34. Optimal Medical Foundation
35. Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation
36. Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center
37. Children's Leukemia Research Association
38. United Breast Cancer Foundation
39. Shiloh International Ministries
40. Circle of Friends For American Veterans

41. Find the Children
42. Survivors and Victims Empowered
43. Firefighters Assistance Fund
44. Caring for Our Children Foundation
45. National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition
46. American Foundation for Children With AIDS
47. Our American Veterans
48. Roger Wyburn-Mason & Jack M Blount Foundation For Eradication of Rheumatoid  Disease
49. Firefighters Burn Fund
50. Hope Cancer Fund

One of the most disturbing aspects of this list, is that the names of most of these pseudo charities are designed to pull the heartstrings of donors who think their money is going to help very sick children, women with breast cancer, veterans... when very little, if any is actually going to those in need. Makes me want to scream out their names on the highest mountain. I'll have to settle with posting them here, as the best way to deal with this problem, is to become informed and ask charities questions like, "How much of my donation is actually going to this cause?." I'm grateful to all those who have taken the time to compile this information, which helps many of us to discern where, and where not, to place our donations.

Here are some reputable charity online navigators:

Charity Navigator
CharityWatch
GiveWell

For full story and audio: MarketPlace

Sources: Tampa Bay Times, Kendall Taggart/Center For Investigative Reporting, Adrienne Hill/NPR
 

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Comment Preferences

  •  These lists are so important... (5+ / 0-)

    Americans are generous, but there is only a limited amount each of us has to give. Therefore, making sure we know that our money is going to be used as intended is very important, because every dollar that goes to a scam is one that could be going to a good organization.

    I'd like to find a good charity to donate for cleft palate repair. Anyone have experience with Smile Train or another suggestion? I see that Smile Train isn't rated by Charity Navigator due to much of its donations coming in the form of services by healthcare pros.

    •  Pushing for single payer health care helps most (7+ / 0-)

      With single payer, every family can get the care they need for someone needing surgery for cleft palate.

      "The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul." Helen Thomas

      by Betty Pinson on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 04:40:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, and I support Single-Payer (4+ / 0-)

        I fully support single-payer healthcare.

        I was thinking more internationally. We seem to have done a pretty good job addressing cleft palates here in the U.S., but many go uncorrected in other parts of the world. It's the kind of thing that seems like it can dramatically improve the quality of one's life at a fairly reasonable cost (I think it's around $200-$300).

      •  Bad charities list (0+ / 0-)

        It's on Wall Street, but thank you for addressing single payer health care and health care for disabled children.

        I get overwhelming mail and phone calls for charities, I found out about National No Call (gov) organization, it works. How about adding addresses or email addresses for bunk charities. It will help me keep track of those knuckleheads, and the new email addresses I can BLOCK immediatly.

        This is so cool, thank you.

    •  My kids' ENT is one of their volunteer (6+ / 0-)

      docs and he is an extremely ethical person we've known for 12 years.  While I haven't asked him about his work with Smile Train, I trust his judgment, and I believe he wouldn't work with any organization that didn't do what it says it does.

      I can find out more information, if you like.

      Remember. Bring them home. ● And he reminds me that we are playing a long game here … and that change is hard, and change is slow, and it never happens all at once -- Michelle Obama.

      by edsbrooklyn on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 05:09:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  So Where's Susan G. Komen On This List? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pattyp, bumbi, SixSixSix

      They SURE belong there for being anti-Women's choice and defunding Planned Parenthood - and for spending more on "administrative costs" than on giving out money even when Teabagging traitors AREN'T running them!

      •  That's how bad these charities are.... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Leslie Salzillo

        For all of Komen's failings and overhead, these groups probably make Komen look like a model charity.

        The top 5 worst charities average only 5.58% of contributions spent on direct aid. They all have great sounding names too, often similar to more reputable and honest charities. The 5 worst average 5.58% of donations going to direct aid. It's just shameful.

    •  SMILE TRAIN (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      88kathy

      has consistently been rated amongst the very best.  Their staff and directors are paid by private funding that does not eat into the donations they receive for cleft surgeries.  Even when I was on a very limited income I still made sure to donate the costs of at least one surgery per year.

      The New York Times called them (I am paraphrasing here) "the best charity going in terms of dollar spent per dollar taken in".

      I'm not sixty-two—I'm fifty-twelve!

      by Pragmatus on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 07:28:03 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  50 Worst Charities (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates, samddobermann

      If you want to make your list complete, you MUST include "Autism Speaks", where only 4% of the millions they take in goes to actually helping anyone.

      All those commercials you see on TV are LIES, in that they claim to speak FOR autistics, when they only speak about autistics, in the most pitying terms possible.  They say their goal is to eradicate autism, but we don't take kindly to being eradicated. And as you can see, we can speak just fine for ourselves!

      •  I can see that, Clay Adams! (0+ / 0-)
        Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

        "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

        by nomandates on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 08:12:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Somewhat misleading (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Amber6541

        [As a father of a daughter with classic Autism, I have some familiarity with the subject and some of the charities]

        This is misleading in the sense that you are only giving them credit for their "direct" family services portion of their program dollars. I would say that 4% of an almost 60 million dollar budget is quite a bit of money. I would also say that the 44% of their budget that is spent on "research" cannot possibly be discounted as not "actually helping anyone". While I don't donate to or directly support Autism Speaks (we are involved in local organizations, and local chapters of other national charities), I still see the value in trying to gain knowledge on many areas of science related to Autism - early diagnosis, early intervention, neuroscience, treatments, and cure. I know a lot of people don't like that term, but my daughter will struggle greatly in her life, and many like her will not be able to easily communicate as well as yourself, even though they may some language, and others may never speak at all. I find it somewhat frustrating that anyone would take a hard stance on whether or not a "cure" is appropriate, seeing that many people on the spectrum (clearly not all) have a low or less than ideal quality of life.

        Personally, if I could offer my daughter treatment or a "cure", I would, if it made her life better and less stressful. She will otherwise spend her life fighting to communicate, struggling with severe anxiety, and trying to overcome compulsions and OCD tendencies. If she can live a happy life with all her struggles, I will be happy. I'm much more afraid that she won't be happy, nor be able to tell me what would make her truly happy, then I won't be happy. I would do most anything to make her happy. Could be a"cure". Could just be some treatment, medication, or change in surroundings. I will try to find that solution, and my sources for information span many areas of science, holistic remedies, therapies, friends and fellow family members involved with folks on the spectrum, of which many of those things require a great deal of research and funding to come to helpful conclusions.

        I can say that at least Autism Speaks is spending a lot of money, and a decent percentage of their budget, on research. Surely not all their research will help everyone, and some might not help anyone, but I don't believe that they are anywhere near the "worst".

        All I want is the truth.

        by klaud on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 09:18:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Operation Smile is the one I go with. I have (0+ / 0-)

      never heard of Smile Train.

      give the NRA the Royal Flush join Stop The NRA

      by 88kathy on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 07:48:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Operation Smile (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        88kathy

        I usually contribute to Operation Smile and have for years. Never heard of Smile Train. I have several friends who are involved with Doctors without Borders, but most of them are in the medical field. Not having a lot of money myself, I give to Operation Smile, Planned Parenthood, a local shelter, a few politicians, and a couple of bums. That's about as much as I can contribute to anything, but I feel good about where my time and money are spent--still getting over all the time and money and effort I put into Komen. Now I won't touch anything pink.

  •  Don't donate to any charity over the phone (19+ / 0-)

    Any charity using a call center to raise funds is crooked.  Most charities don't have adequate staff and volunteers to make tons of calls and don't bother to do so.  

    Any charity calling you is using a third party fundraiser who keeps most of the money and gives a small amount to the charity. Any charity willing to pay so much money to a call center/fundraiser is also likely using the money they do raise to line their own pockets.  

    Also, women don't need donations to get mammograms.  It's easy to get a free mammogram in this country, what's difficult is getting money to pay for treatment.  Don't listen to any charity who tells you they pay for breast cancer treatment, either.  They're lying. Breast cancer treatment is too expensive for any charity to afford.

    "The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul." Helen Thomas

    by Betty Pinson on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 04:30:37 PM PDT

    •  Not quite such a broad brush, please (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mr crabby, Amber6541
      Any charity calling you is using a third party fundraiser who keeps most of the money and gives a small amount to the charity. Any charity willing to pay so much money to a call center/fundraiser is also likely using the money they do raise to line their own pockets.
      I worked as a temp for a very reputable charity for a short time. My job? Calling people and asking them for money.

      I couldn't hack the job (especially not for minimum wage), but it really was the charity and we really were doing the callout ourselves.

      I would personally recommend against giving money over the phone — get them to send you information, or just get them to give you their web site, and then go look them up on Charity Navigator — but not everyone who calls you is a scammer. (It may well be a majority, though.)

      Also, women don't need donations to get mammograms.  It's easy to get a free mammogram in this country, what's difficult is getting money to pay for treatment.
      I'm not sure how it works in your area, but the places giving out the free mammograms around here are, in fact, 501c(3) organizations that get a lot of their money from donations.

      Just saying.

  •  Florida was doing it right, years ago. (5+ / 0-)

    Apparently, it still is.  Below is the listing.

    Division of Consumer Services
    Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
    1-800-HELP-FLA

    Florida Charities
    GIFT GIVERS' GUIDE

    As best I remember, it was approxaimently 100 or so pages long, in regular size type.  It had information on any registered Florida Charity.  I highly reccommend it.  It's available on the internet.

    Time is a long river.

    by phonegery on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 04:40:20 PM PDT

  •  Here's what I say when one of those organizations (9+ / 0-)

    calls me:

    "I'm sure that you have it tough; we all do. But I'm also sure that you know that by calling people and taking their money and not using it for good, that you're doing a bad thing. I'm sure you're not getting your fair share of it, either. You're not getting the yachts and the fancy cars that the guys at the top are. You're just making enough to get by, to feed your kids. But I hope you're looking for a better job, where you can do some good, because doing what you're doing is bad karma, and I'm sure on some level you know it's really wrong, and really bad"

  •  Useful list (7+ / 0-)

    Is there a 50 best?  That would be useful, too.

  •  9 out of 50 on the "worst list" (7+ / 0-)

    .. have "police" or "sheriff" or "narcotics officer" in their names.

    Go figure.

    We need to find a way forward to make sure that we can stop terrorists while protecting privacy and liberty of innocent Americans - Then Senator - Barack Obama

    by Anthony Page aka SecondComing on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 05:39:22 PM PDT

  •  Tampa Bay Times? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peptabysmal

    Don't they do PolitiFact?

    I wouldn't trust them to rate garbage collectors.

  •  If you give your money to something called the... (8+ / 0-)

    National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition, you deserve to get ripped off.

    Art is the handmaid of human good.

    by joe from Lowell on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 06:50:07 PM PDT

  •  don't forget the big ones, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk

    red cross, united way, etc...

    According to United Press International, Gail McGovern took over as CEO of the American Red Cross in 2008 at an annual salary of $500,000 plus a signing bonus of $65,000.

    •Brian Gallagher is still President and CEO of United Way, and currently earns $1,037,140 a year, according to a December 2010 report from the American Institute of Philanthropy.

    •W. Todd Bassett is no longer National Commander of the Salvation Army. The current National Commander, Israel L. Gaither, is paid somewhere between $79,389 and $243,248 annually for his services. (Since the Salvation Army, as a religious organization, doesn't report its expenses to the IRS, the only available figures for executive salaries are estimates, which vary greatly from source to source.)

    •UNICEF's Executive Director, Anthony Lake, earns $201,351 a year, according to a 2010 communique from the organization — dramatically less than the $1,200,000 per year claimed in the message above.

    http://urbanlegends.about.com/...

    "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

    by kuvasz on Tue Aug 20, 2013 at 08:21:42 PM PDT

    •  you folks drive me crazy (0+ / 0-)

      these are some of the best, most well-run organizations in the world. their CEOs make that much because their expertise is necessary to keep them functioning.

      i am tired of people saying NGO workers should work for peanuts.

      while the charities listed as the 50 worst are certainly bad and poorly managed (no organization needs that much overhead), the red cross and united way and other well-managed NGOs do not deserve to be spoken in the same breath as these.

      stop demonizing good NGOs because they actually pay their workers what they're worth.

      •  you're crazy already (0+ / 0-)

        A normal person, which you are not, would think that you can get quality management for less than a half a million dollars. The leaders of these organizations are parasites.

        "There are many truths of which the full meaning cannot be realized until personal experience has brought it home." John Stuart Mill

        by kuvasz on Mon Aug 26, 2013 at 11:20:25 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I love believed we should have a maximum cap (6+ / 0-)

    on how much the head of a non-profit can be paid in compensation and still maintain it's charitable status. I would make this amount something like $300,000 a year.

    That would  end abuses like pastors who have private jets, college coaches making millions to teach "student" athletes, the of trade organizations making millions, and many other abuses like this. To close loopholes we also need a law that caps how much of the funds these so cal charitable fundraiser can keep (and still allow the charity to be tax exempt) and laws banning too close relationships between, fundraisers and the charities (in many cases the charities founders will use a fundraiser owned by a family member even a spouse).

    By keeping the focus on secular organizations while we lobby for the law, we could also eventually tie up a lot of these prosperity gospel flim-flam artist. A win win.

    By the way $300,000/yr is a lot but running a major organization like the Red Cross does require someone with a lot of management skills so that needs to be acknowledged. I guess the alternative would a progressive cap system based on the annual amount the charity raised, but I could see that getting abused, so I prefer a hard cap.

    -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

    by dopper0189 on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 04:22:12 AM PDT

    •  I agree. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leslie Salzillo
      I love believed we should have a maximum cap on how much the head of a non-profit can be paid in compensation and still maintain it's charitable status. I would make this amount something like $300,000 a year.

      "I'm totally pro-choice in the matter of abortion. But of course I'm also so radically pro-life that I think every person from birth onward must have full and affordable access to healthcare." - Gail Collins

      by gritsngumbo on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 06:50:05 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Non-profit abuse seems like it's an issue to me... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Leslie Salzillo

      We have a lot of groups who register as non-profits, but who provide very limited value in terms of their stated missions. Too often they're used by the politically-connected, and just rake in grant money and funding without showing any real value or tangible benefit to the community. I see this a lot in the SF Bay Area.

    •  I disagree (0+ / 0-)

      There are many ways to asses how a nonprofit is doing without having to put arbitrary caps on salaries.  By the way, I think this TED talk is VERY important on the notion of compensation for nonprofit directors:

      ((youtube bfAzi6D5FpM))

      Pushing for an alternative option to "America, Love It Or Leave It."

      by scrabblehound on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 04:43:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Children's Intl Prez Jim Cook, $425 thou annually (0+ / 0-)

      I sponsored an Indian kid(from the country, India)thinking the idea was a closer relating to the child, sorta as a big bro or sis, but the minimum $22 per month, per child is dumped into a general fund. I didn't learn this until after a year, cuz' I was donating $40 per month thinking it helped her a wee bit more above paying for her CI programs as her family(5)made only $95 month.

      The Prez/CEO of Children's Intl makes in annual salary/benefits, $425,000, or about $35,000 per month. I complained and a VP got back to me to insulate him from me, by saying Jim Cook, the CEO sponsors 19 kids himself, per month. Turns out it's $5,000 per year for thse 19 kids at $22 per month. I'm on disability, and I pay a higher percentage of my funds sponsoring Razia, than he does sponsoring 19 kids at the same monthly rate per kid.

      I proposed to him and the VP since his job is to advocate for $22 per month each for his kids for his measly $35,000 per month he should adjust his sponsorship to 250 kids at $50 per month for 5 years, decreasing his monthly take from $35,000 to around $22,000 per month. I got no response, ever, though I proposed it a couple of times.

      Earlier this year, Razia, my kid was graduating, so they sent me letters about another kid to sponsor. I wrote back, yet again oif my proposal for him to care for 250 kids at $50/month for 5 years, again no answer.
      Jim Cook over 5 years would make over $2 million, and if he sponsored the 250 kids as I suggested, over 5 years he gets a 'measly'over $1.3 million. Oh, the tragedy of being a low paid CEO for a charity...kids charity. Kid-$22/month, CEO-$35,000/month.

      To me CI's sponsorship program is a come on marketing gimmick. The funds are dumped into a general fund, and I don't need them to point me to a kid to write letters of encouragement to. They just use the idea of a personal sponsorship arrangement as a hook, and after a year of giving Razia an extra $18 per month, I find that it was going into another separate general fund.

      Don't get me wrong, I liked knowing Razia was in the program, but it had nothing personal to do with me. She was almost 19 and about to graduate and I, in no way wanted to stop as her 'sponsor.' It's not her fault advocates for people who are poor like her, use dishonesty, and misrepresentation.

      "There is far too much violence, inequality, & disrespect shown to women in the forms of sexism, misogyny and more, around the world, and it must stop, NOW, & I, as a male human being, pledge to do what I can to that end." -RNash

      by Ray984954 on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 10:20:07 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  $300K is actually quite modest (0+ / 0-)

      when you think about the skills required and what that same person could make in a similar for-profit job.  Of course, you'll have to pay them enough to pay off their student loans...

      I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

      by mojo11 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 06:12:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, no it is not (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Amber6541

        There is nothing modest about a $300k salary.  If you're going to work for a non-profit, even as its CEO, you should be willing to accept a far more modest but still livable salary.  There is no way in hell that anyone needs that much money - with that salary you could pay off even the priciest of student loans in a few months.

        •  I meant by comparison to the same job (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Amber6541

          in the private for-profit sector.  In a perfect world, administrative costs would be funded by foundations and all of the staff would work for free.  Of course in a perfect world, we wouldn't need charities.

          I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

          by mojo11 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 08:48:41 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  good lord (0+ / 0-)

          then you'll only attract people with inadequate skills to manage a large organization.

          a non-profit CEO's salary has nothing to do with the functionality of an organization. you have to look at the big picture.

          you've never worked in the non-profit world, have you. any of you. some of the ignorance here is outrageous.

  •  My fiance and I (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bumbi, Leslie Salzillo

    are offering our wedding guests the option of donating to a variety of charities instead of giving us material gifts. We have all we need already, not to mention a really small house that can't hold much more stuff. LOL. (There's a donation aggregator created just for weddings, the I Do Foundation, which makes it pretty simple.) I'm glad to see none of the charities we're considering are on this list. I use Charity Navigator to check out every organization before I consider donating even a dollar to them.

    The thing I found most disgusting about the worst charities is how many of them use sick/disabled children and veterans to grift money from people who truly want to help.

    "All secrets are deep. All secrets become dark. That's in the nature of secrets." - Cory Doctorow

    by pattyp on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 06:04:41 AM PDT

    •  I've done that for Christmas/birthdays for (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Amber6541

      several years now.  Makes things easier on everybody, including me.  I now have an answer to the "What do you want for your birthday" question no matter who asks or what year.  And if they're a little short that month and can't do it, then they can defer until the next.

      I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

      by mojo11 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 06:18:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Our family donates to charities at Christmas, (0+ / 0-)

        rather than give gifts to the adults in the family.  We have done that for quite a few years now, and I think everyone agrees it works well for our family.  Kids, of course, get personal gifts.

        Mother Teresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

        by Amber6541 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 02:36:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't give to ANY charity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leslie Salzillo

    over the phone. Stopped supporting Salvation Army after learning they "sell" the winter coats to those who don't have them. Found that out after helping a dry cleaner client collect (and dry clean) coats for the needy and donated them to the S.A. Won't even drop a nickle in the kettle.

    "I'm totally pro-choice in the matter of abortion. But of course I'm also so radically pro-life that I think every person from birth onward must have full and affordable access to healthcare." - Gail Collins

    by gritsngumbo on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 06:53:02 AM PDT

    •  Have you ever been in a Salvation Army store? (0+ / 0-)

      I was surprised and disappointed at the price tags on the stuff they had there.  It was all priced too high, in my opinion.  An example: some of the furniture was quite cheap and the prices S.A. was charging were probably close the what the items cost originally.  
      After that experience I, like you, stopped giving to them.

      Mother Teresa: "If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other."

      by Amber6541 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 02:42:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you for this diary... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leslie Salzillo

    Uncharitable 'charities' have gotten away with this for too long.

    My mother who died earlier this year was one who gave regularly to several that are on this list. I'm not exaggerating; every single day there was a solicitation in her mail from at least one of more than 30 that hounded her by both mail and phone.

    When I took over her bill paying while she was ill I was surprised at how often and how much she was giving.
    I looked up every one she gave to on CharityNavigator and showed her how little if nothing she gave was actually helping anyone other than the CEO's. She got mad! Instead, we urged her to give to our local food bank.

    You would not believe the amount of calendars, greeting cards, notepads and other crap they sent her! And now, since her mail comes to my house I receive it all...argh!

    FORWARD! Obama/Biden 2012

    by Esjaydee on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 07:17:45 AM PDT

  •  Shhhhhhewwww ... sigh of relief (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Leslie Salzillo

    I make a monthly donation to the WWF and Humaine Society ... Glad to see those organizations are not on the list!

    Love animals ... More than people, probably.

    Returned Peace Corps Volunteer 2005-2007, The Gambia ... A Liberal Defense Contractor (Wha?!) ...

    by AfricanLived on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 07:56:34 AM PDT

    •  AfricanLived (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nomandates

      I hope you're not referring to the Humane Society of the United States.  They should be included on the list because they spend less than a penny of every dollar they raise.  The rest goes to campaigns to raise yet more money, CEO salaries and retirement, about 50 lawyers, market investments, etc.

      Donate to your local shelter, this ensures your generous donations go where they are intended and actually help animals.

      •  Good advice to donate (0+ / 0-)

        to our local shelters, Karenh44.

        Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

        "Compassion is not weakness, and concern for the unfortunate is not socialism." Hubert H. Humphrey

        by nomandates on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 08:17:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Or a local rescue group (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Amber6541

        Those are mostly small, unfunded, all-volunteer organizations that are short of everything except animals.

        I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

        by mojo11 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 06:20:12 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  You are so right. (0+ / 0-)

        Local shelters actually have to pay HSUS to receive materials and assistance from that organization, which they really cannot afford.

        Also, I wouldn't give to WWF.  They are considered one of the members of "Big Green."  They take a lot of corporate donations from industries engaged in the very practices they're supposedly fighting.  Big Green "environmental charities" give a greenwashing "seal of approval", or soften their stance on environmental legislation (e.g., opt to support weaker antipollution measures over stronger proposals), or both, in exchange for this funding.

        My choice would be the Center For Biological Diversity.  They take zero corporate cash.

        See:  http://www.sourcewatch.org/... , http://www.thenation.com/...

    •  Love animals do you well...here is this (0+ / 0-)

      Look up Oreo's Law and HSUS role in killing
      a law that would have helped so many shelter animals, in effect, HSUS helped to kill animals, by not getting behind the law. It was really about the ASPCA's killing of Oreo, a dog who was thrown out of a several story building by his owner. The ASPCA, PETA, American Humane Society, all could have helped, but instead what they did is go against strapped rescue groups who want to save every animal possible, and so, occasionally have many animals from time to time as they don't have the resources these big groups have. PETA, kills thousands of animals annually, calling it euthenasia, which has come to mean killing,..only it isn't actually it is mercy killing, it isn't mercy to kill a healthy animal. These big well-financed groups through the media call rescue groups hoarders. Animals are not harmed by a little bit of crowding temporarily, and they would not be crowded if they had the funds HSUS, PETA, ASPCA does. They could help these small groups, but they don't, but they do villify them by calling them hoarders. And many NY shelters won't allow animals about to be killed to be taken by a rescue group who is run by volunteers willing to spend time helping thse "healthy" animals. Oreo's Law would have helped, HSUS kept it from passing.
      FYI, Read more at the No Kill Advocacy Center website.

      "There is far too much violence, inequality, & disrespect shown to women in the forms of sexism, misogyny and more, around the world, and it must stop, NOW, & I, as a male human being, pledge to do what I can to that end." -RNash

      by Ray984954 on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 11:52:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  HSUS and WWF (0+ / 0-)

      As some other posters have noted these orgs both are very questionable, especially the HSUS, which currently has a RICO (federal racketeering) suit against it.  I'm very surprised that it's not on the list of the "worst of the worst."  In recent years they (HSUS) also have taken over a number of smaller charities, including The Fund for Animals (which was founded by the late author Cleveland Amory), and the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), both of which used to be relatively "good" orgs.  HSUS does not advertise that these charities are now part of their fund-raising empire but they are.

      PETA, also, as noted by someone else, is a ghastly org that probably directly kills more animals than it has ever helped.  I used to think they were innovative and clever, but the more I learned about them, the more sickened and horrified I became.  (Do a web search on them and you'll see what I'm talking about.)  

      It's become clear to me that just because someone claims to want to help animals (or sick kids, or veterans, or whomever) that does not necessarily mean that they are sane, honest or humane.  It may mean quite the opposite, in fact.

      It would be helpful if there was a rating list specifically of animal-related charities that made information on them easily available.  I get dozens of mail solicitations from animal charities every month (plus all the other pleas for donations from non-animal progressive causes) and even though I have a fairly long history of involvement in animal welfare issues, I've never heard of half of these outfits -- who owns them, what they actually do, their relationship to other orgs, etc.  Does anyone know of a site where such info is available?  Personally I'd love to know.    

  •  All other issues aside (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    worldlotus

    It is remarkable how much we give. Even when we deride Southern states for some foul policies, they give a ton to charity even in bad economic times.

    http://callatimeout.blogspot.com/ Jesus Loves You.

    by DAISHI on Wed Aug 21, 2013 at 05:25:53 PM PDT

  •  Not wrong but, word of caution (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Naniboujou, dRefractor, nomandates

    I read an article over a year ago about this thing called the "overhead myth." I went looking for the article but couldn't find it in among the static, but I did find a .org that apparently is related.   I just wanted to chime in to point out that if you evaluate an organization solely on how much it spends on admin support (which this article implies, but doesn't explicitly state) then you are doing it wrong.

    A good charity will have a strong administrative core and distribution network, and that takes money.  There's no getting around it.  It doesn't matter a hill of beans if an org has low overhead if they can't actually meet their missions statement because of poor organization.  So yes while some, many and maybe even all of the above 50 could be terrible organizations, I don't know (I give to specific other ones and don't go charity surfing), please don't use just overhead as the evaluative criteria.

    Here's a link I found.
    http://overheadmythcom.b.presscdn.com/...

  •  Disreputable Charities (0+ / 0-)

    I would not like to make this list. These are disreputable organizations, to say the least.

    My fiancee and I are in the process of starting a non-profit organization for Combat Veterans and their families. So far, we have had few donations, but most of the start-up costs have come out of pocket. We are still trying to get the $850.00 in order to file our 1023 form with the IRS for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. That way, we can provide each donor with documentation for deducting their donation from their personal or business taxes.

    Our intent for starting this NPO is to SERVE the Combat Veterans, to help them to heal from the silent wounds that they have received in battle, especially Combat Associated PTSD, and to heal the family members who have been affected as a direct result of those wounds.

  •  Charities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates

    My brother actually does this telephone fund raising. He's been doing it and making a bare living for 25 years. I won't name names but some are on this list. There are not volunteers willing to pound the phones 8 hours a day, so charities use telemarketers. Donated money pays the wages for those telephone talking people, it does not cost the charity a penny and they get at least 30% of all donations. What the charities do with that free money after that is up to them. It is not a scam at all, it's just paying minimum wage to people who are willing to talk on the phone and cold call for a living.Again.. whatever the charities do with the money after that is on them, not the phone people.

  •  Thank you for this... (0+ / 0-)

    My phone has been ringing with solicitations 4-5 times  weekly and all were on your list - most within the top 10.  They make you feel so guilty when you refuse even the $15 dollar level.  I get off the phone feeling like scum.

    It was most interesting to see that the Humane Society of the US, or any other animal org.,  were not in the top 50. I always thought HSUS would be number one from all the bad publicity.

    My phone is on the no call list but that does not seem to be a deterrent.

  •  People perverted the word charity (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates

    People perverted the word charity which is a thing you cannot touch.  The characteristics of charity are in the character traits of Jesus who is like a humble child. Religions turned charity into a man made thing called money. 1 Corinthians 13:4.KJV, To not seek your own is to seek others to love them like you want to be loved.

  •  Another good source to check on charities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    is GuideStar

    http://www.guidestar.org/

    As a representative of a grantmaking foundation, I always check GuideStar before granting to nonprofits.

    Pushing for an alternative option to "America, Love It Or Leave It."

    by scrabblehound on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 04:49:20 PM PDT

  •  America's 50 Worst Charities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates

    From the Wall Street Journal by John Carreyrou
    Sept. 13, 2007

    Legal Loophole Ensnares Breast Cancer Patients

    http://online.wsj.com/...

  •  Predatory (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    "Legal Loopholes Ensnares Breast - Cancer Patients"
    by John Carreyrou Wall Street Journal
    Sept.13, 2007

    Just copy & paste:

    http://online.wsj.com/...

  •  13 of the 50 (0+ / 0-)

    were, as least judging by their titles, police or firefighter charities. Guess crime pays, after all.

    "A rising tide lifts all yachts."

    by Mike732 on Thu Aug 22, 2013 at 07:26:49 PM PDT

  •  50 Worst charities (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates

    I feel a lot safer now knowing that 10 of the 50 are police/sheriff/state troopers connected. Glad to see they are "policing" themselves and can be trusted ;-)

  •  CharityWatch is a great arbiter (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nomandates, Amber6541

    I joined CharityWatch back when it was still the American Institute of Philanthropy because my father (a retired CPA) and I were both  getting inundated by donation requests based on our giving histories and it was getting harder to separate out the good from the bad.

    CharityWatch gives the highest level of scrutiny to organizations and "uncooks" the books that confuse many.  While others were lauding Greg Mortenson, CharityWatch was doing its homework and pulling back the curtain on his scam.

  •  What a useful diary! Thanks nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    www.tapestryofbronze.com

    by chloris creator on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 01:21:31 AM PDT

  •  Charity begins at home (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    I have a poor relative I know deserves charity.. I also have some acquaintances I feel I should help. I donate directly to them, my largest donations.  My small donations go to St Jude's Hospital, campaigns for Senator Bernie Sanders, Op-Ed News, American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and several important political activist organizations.  I never donate to anyone who telephones me to solicit, and I am always careful not to donate to organizations I do not know.

    It is important to remember than Charity Begins at Home.

  •  Most reputable charities (0+ / 0-)

    will tell you up front what percentage of donations go where.  But if they don't, then it's important to ask.

    There's more to determining what constitutes a "good" charity than how much of their donations go into their stated purpose though.  There is one very well known organization whose stated mission is to provide "meaningful work" for the disabled, but those who work there might find themselves earning as little as 22 cents an hour.

    I'll believe corporations are people when one comes home from Afghanistan in a body bag.

    by mojo11 on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 06:01:20 AM PDT

  •  These guys (0+ / 0-)
    5.  Firefighters Charitable Foundation
    really do send you the tickets they sell you over the phone and I bought them once. I know other people who went to the concert (or whatever their fundraiser dujour is). The details differ from state to state but it's the same umbrella organization.

    I did a little research and found that 70% of their revenue goes to executive compensation. These guys are millionaires from what I was able to gather.

    I always wonder about the tear jerking country singer on the "wounded warrior" project ads but they're not in the top 50 list so maybe they're okay.

    Reaganomics noun pl: blind faith that unregulated capitalism can provide unlimited goods and services, that government is bad and it can increase revenue by decreasng revenue. Synonyms: Friedmanomics. Antonyms: common sense. Related Words: Laffer curve

    by FrY10cK on Fri Aug 23, 2013 at 06:19:08 AM PDT

  •  charitable stealing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Amber6541

    Amazingly, the link shows that only four of the fifty cited charities actually gave 10% or more to those who needed the donations.  And people are complaining about the IRS investigating organizations asking for tax-exempt status?

  •  How to judge a charity (0+ / 0-)

    There has been a lot of discussion about the value of charities and it's pretty much a consensus that you DO NOT judge a charity on its low overhead. Using the example of the Make A Wish Foundation, they made $20 million for the cause.

    Would it have been better if they made a measly ten grand but had a small 3% overhead?

    What am I missing? What is this list missing?

  •  It's interesting how some seem to advocate for (0+ / 0-)

    overhead being by far the most important criterion for judging charities and others saying it shouldn't be considered at all.  I would say the answer lies somewhere in between.  

    As benchwarmer points out, you'd certainly want the organization to have a solid base of operations to be able to carry out its duties.  The trick is figuring out just how much is really necessary for stability, and how much is excess.  How can you tell when low overhead means the group is struggling to survive versus having discovered ways to work more efficiently and cut out waste?  On the opposite end of the spectrum, at what level would you place a cutoff for considering overhead percentage to be wasteful and excessive?  Even when doing a lot of digging, it might still be difficult to find a satisfying answer to these questions.

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