Care, but Be Aware
Now, I know what you might be thinking: how can this girl be so cold? How can she not help those in need especially during the season of giving?
The truth is, I don't think I could care any more then I already do about the world, the communities around me, the less fortunate, the environment, human rights, you name it. I am very passionate about everything. Now here is why I don't donate to people outside of grocery stores anymore.
This year, I found a job with a company that claims to help fund nonprofits. This, for me, was a dream job. I love charity. I love donating my time and my money to helping the world. I even commence my own projects like beach cleanups and feeding the homeless. So, a job like this felt like a new beginning. Doing charity full time would be surreal. I thought this was really going to change everything for me. It did.
This company was the most disgusting company I have ever witnessed. Their process of each day is that everybody meets in the morning and pitches to each other the best way to sell "packages" to help this nonprofit. They claimed that they are better than the number one nonprofit (ex. The Red Cross). So, I asked if I should include that in my pitch. I thought that being number one would definitely make a statement and catch people's attention. But, my boss told me that I really shouldn't tell people that and in fact I should tell them the least amount of information unless they ask. That made no sense to me, because when I learn about a new organization I like to know the ins and outs of it. Having the most knowledge helps me feel comfortable to donate. So, after that, I was already mentally done. But I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt and go through the whole day.
They have the employees arrive in business attire for their "meetings," then send them to a bunch of grocery stores and change into a shirt representing the nonprofit you're supposedly working for. They set up a table in front of a store and harass people all day.
Let's start with the meeting in the morning that curled my stomach. The head guy of the company, the one running the show, was bragging about all the money he has that allows him to take his girlfriend on fancy trips and to spend his money on useless things. His inspiration tactic was to show us the pyramid of his scheme (yes, it's basically a pyramid scheme). He broke it down for us and asked how many of us want to raise money for charity all our lives. Then he ended his rhetorical question with "nobody." He said, "At some point, you want to be making so much money that your tax guy calls you and tells you that you need to start buying stuff otherwise you're going to be taxed." So, he said, "I bought a yacht." It was then when I realized that not one of the people in that room cared about anything other than themselves and the money they're going to make.
Now, I would've been fine with all of that. It is their life and their decisions, after all. But only if what they told the people were true. I would feel more comfortable if they were honest and didn't use loopholes just to get people to donate. Now, these people say that they are with this nonprofit. They tell people that 100% of the proceeds go to the actual cause. Which technically a hundred percent of the proceeds do go to the nonprofit. But then (here's the loop hole), the company raising the money charges the nonprofit 50% of what is raised. So everyone donating thinks that all of their money is actually going to the cause, when in fact it is not. Half of that is going into the pockets of the very people that they're talking to.
Nonprofits are like businesses and they have this thing called overhead. Overhead is basically all the expenses and payouts that the charity business has to do in order to keep itself running. So, what this fundraising company does is it raises a ton of money then takes half of that and pockets it. The nonprofit is now left with only 50% of what was raised, but they still have to cover their overhead. So, 25% to 50% of that half goes to the overhead.
Say this company raised $1,000 for the nonprofit. They would take $500 of that and leave the nonprofit with $500 as well; now, the nonprofit now has to fund its whole business, leaving only about $250 to $125 going to the cause. Meanwhile, big boss man is buying yachts.
They don't harass you for charity, they harass you for the money. They conveniently left out of their job description when I applied that it was a commission-based job. So, they don't go home until their quota is met. You may think this kind person is donating their night to help a good cause, but they might not be. They just might be out late trying to make a bigger score.
I'm thankful I got to see this company and shed a new light on myself about blind donations. I'm so glad I got to see the greedy side of charity and I left that company after the first day.
Now, I don't want you to think that I'm saying don't donate to anybody. What I'm saying is ask questions. Make sure that they're not just trying to take your money. Find out how passionate they are about the actual cause. Find out what it funds. Find out how much of that goes to overhead. Find out everything. If they can't answer your questions, don't donate to them. I believe everybody does need to make a living, but they should do it honestly. They should not lie behind other peoples suffering and pretend that they're actually trying to make that suffering go away when they're not.
So, the lesson for this holiday season is to be careful, to ask questions and trust your instincts. Don't allow them to intimidate you. Remember: They're asking for your money so you deserve to know where its going.