It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than to earn it in the first place. – Andrew Carnegie
The next time you want to send a text message from your smartphone donating $2 to disaster relief, think again. Unfortunately, not all of that money will go to helping the victims. In 2011, Americans donated $200 billion to about 1 million charity organizations. When picking a charity to send your donation to, you have to do your homework. Here is a quick guide to some secrets that charities might not always be willing to share.
1. Is it a registered charity?
Some charities operate without any paid employees, and so they do not have to be registered as a charity. The limit they declare is usually below $50,000 annually. But all the other charities who claim to be registered should be checked out by consulting the list at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). This is important because of the tax deductions available. It will also ensure that you will not give to those charities who are flying under the government’s radar. In the UK, the Charity Commission is the government’s regulator on charities.Advertising
2. How much is spent on overhead
Each charity will have enormous overhead costs regarding staffing, running costs, and fundraising. Inevitably, a part of your donation will go towards these costs. A good rule of thumb is that 60-75% of donations should go to the actual cause and 25-40% towards administrative expenses. But some charities cut back on expenses, which leads to more waste. Check to see if this information is available on the charity’s website before making a donation.
3. Beware of phone calls
Some charities use companies who are for-profit fundraisers and they use telemarketing extensively. Because of the costs involved, it is unlikely that the charity will receive more than 10% of the amount you pledge.
4. Some charities pay enormous salaries to their CEOs
Major charities have to be run as businesses. But disturbing news often comes to light about how much they are spending on salaries and bonuses. Sometimes, funds raised actually go to the charity’s pension funds, rather than to the poor, sick and needy. This information is rarely revealed. Charities defend paying high salaries to executives because they are in demanding roles, and clever fundraising policies have to be thought out and implemented. The site Charity Navigator believes that salaries around the $1 million mark are unacceptable.Advertising
5. Think carefully about donating to short mission trips
These short mission trips to help build houses, schools and orphanages in third world countries seem to do more good for the volunteers, than the poor people. Think about these facts, before donating:
- Many trips cost as much as $30,000 to sponsor.
- Such large sums could actually be used locally to give employment to builders and workers in the country who desperately need money to buy food. Unemployment in these countries can be as high as 30%.
- Volunteers can send the wrong messages in that they know better, can do the work faster and they do not train the people there to deal with their problems in the long term.
Organizers of short term mission trips should focus more on the permanent impact, and how locals can be more actively involved after the volunteers have left. Ask if they are approaching the mission in this way before deciding whether to donate or not.
6. The good, the bad and the ugly about celebrity charities
When you think about Bob Geldof and Bono, who have supported enormously successful charities to fight world hunger and poverty, you can have nothing about admiration for them.Advertising
But some of these celebrity charities have made zero impact when auditors revealed that considerable funds were missing or unaccounted for. This was the case with Madonna. She was going to build a girls’ school in Malawi. Auditors revealed that almost $4 million went missing from the charity’s funds. Madonna is now contributing $11 million she has raised into Malawi-based organizations to help them build the schools that are needed.
Wyclef Jean, the hip hop icon, founded the Yéle Haiti Foundation after the disastrous earthquake in Haiti, which killed up to 300,000 people in 2010. He is now facing lawsuits about tax fraud and whether he gained financially from the charity he set up.
7. Beware of fundraisers in the mall
How many times have you been approached in the mall or on the street by a fast-talking and convincing fundraiser for a very worthy charity? This is a bit more sophisticated than the telephone calls you might receive at home. Here is what to look out for:Advertising
- They do not want a one-off donation.
- They want a monthly commitment which could work out to be $500 annually.
- They offer to fill out a form and all you have to do is sign.
- They are trained in using persuasion techniques by the companies who are raking it in.
- As some of the fundraisers (or “chuggers” as they are called in the UK) earn $13 an hour, you can imagine how much money actually gets into the charity’s coffers.
The whole concept of giving to charity should be based on a desire to help and not from being pressured in any way by a fast-talking fundraiser!
8. Do some detective work
Before deciding on donating to any charity, check out the following information. All of this should be easily available on the charity’s website. Failing that, there should be information leaflets available. This is what you should check:
- The annual report
- Names of directors and patrons
- Audited financial reports
- Specific projects and how the funds are used
- Statistics on completed projects
Charities are doing magnificent work. You just need to do some homework to make sure that they are managing their funds in the best possible way and that they are not using doubtful tactics. If you are unhappy about this, you can always volunteer to help local charities in your area.
Featured photo credit: Faces helped by charity: Water/Sacca via flickr.com
Last Updated on July 18, 2019
10 Small Changes To Make Your House Feel Like A Home
Your house is more than just a building that you live in. It should be a home that makes you feel welcome as soon as you open the front door.
Making your house feel like a home is not something that simply happens on its own. You need to make some changes to a house when you move in, to give it that cozy, warm feeling that turns it into a true home. To help you speed the process, follow this guide to 10 small changes to make your house feel like a home.
1. Make the Windows Your Own
When you move into a home, they often come with boring Venetian blinds or less than attractive curtains.
One of the best ways you can instantly warm your home and make it showcase your style is to add some new window dressing. Adding beautiful curtains not only improves your home’s appearance, but it can also help to control the temperature.
2. Put up Some Art
If you have a lot of bare walls in your home, it will seem sterile no matter how beautiful your paint or wallpaper is.
Hanging art on the walls will instantly give it personality and make it feel like home.
3. Improve the Aroma
A house that is not filled with inviting smells will never feel like a home. There are loads of ways you can make your home smell nice. There are tons of air fresheners on the market you can use.
Incense and scented candles are a nice option as well. Don’t forget that baking in a home is also a great way to fill it with an aroma that instantly smells like home as soon as you open the front door.
4. Put out Lots of Pillows and Throws
A great way to make your home look warm and inviting is to place lots of pillows and throws out on the furniture. It is much better to have too many pillows than not enough.
There is nothing like the feeling of sinking into a cushiony pillow that feels like a cloud to make you feel like you are at home.
5. Instantly Class up Your Closet
If your closet is filled with wire or plastic hangers, it will never truly feel homey. To instantly make your closet feel classy, change out your old hangers for wooden ones.
Not only do they look great, but they are better for hanging your clothes as well.
6. Improve Your Air Quality
One of the most overlooked ways to make your house feel more like a home is to improve its air quality.
The easiest and best way to upgrade the air quality in your home is to change the old, dirty filters in your furnace regularly. Get some air filters delivered to your home so that you always have some on hand.
7. Fill it with Plants
Another way to improve the air quality in your home is to fill it with plants. You should have plants in every room of your home.
They help to improve the air quality and they look beautiful. As well as making your home appear homier, plants also help to boost your mood and lower your stress levels.
8. Change the Doorknobs
Most people don’t really give their doorknobs a second thought unless they are broken. That is a shame because changing your doorknobs is an easy way to add personality to your home.
Changing your old, boring doorknobs to new ones that are works of art will instantly brighten your home.
9. Upgrade Your Tub or Shower
There is nothing like luxuriating in a whirlpool bath or steam shower to make the cares of the day melt away. Your family deserves a bit of luxury when they are in their bathroom.
Install a new shower or tub today to make your bathroom worthy of a place in your home.
10. Fresh Cut Flowers
You can make any room in your house feel homier by placing a vase full of beautiful flowers in it. The gorgeous look and intoxicating aroma of fresh cut flowers will immediately brighten your day when you encounter them.
You don’t have to make all these changes at once. Try one or two a day though, and your house will feel like a home before you know it. The trick is to constantly keep adding these homey touches to make your home a place worthy of its name.