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8 Secrets Charities Don’t Want You to Know

8 Secrets Charities Don’t Want You to Know

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.

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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.

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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.

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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:

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  • 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

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Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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