Disaster Relief

With Harvey and Irma, there’s been much talk about disaster relief.  It’s heart breaking to see so many people needing to recover from the hurricanes.  I’m really thankful for existing organizations with well established infrastructure so they are poised to respond to help people.  I’m no dyed in the wool Southern Baptist but one thing I’ve come to appreciate is their ability and involvement in these relief efforts and because they can ride off their existing infrastructure supported through other programs, I believe 100% of the donations to the relief efforts goes to benefit the victims.

I started wondering about the most tooted organization the American Red Cross.  I was absolutely shocked that they refuse (claiming can’t) give an account of the percent going to the victims of every dollar given.  I can understand not being able to say for certain for Harvey and Irma as everything’s in flux, but this is for past disaster relief efforts.  How can a non-profit organization get away with such accounting?  Somehow, I don’t think IRS would allow them to get away with it.  And such large organization do need at least internal auditing.  I cannot imagine any of the large religious organizations being able to get away with that.

I was alerted to the overhead cost issues for donations when some people at church wanted to designate church as the receiving organization when they give at work through United Way.  I think United Way automatically takes 15-20% (and I don’t remember which) for administrative cost.  REALLY?  The sad thing is I know the employee donations tend to be just a regular deduction from the paychecks and what our church saw were pennies coming through.

So before you donate to any organization out of the goodness of your heart, please make sure that the money is going to where you want it to go rather than someone’s favorite projects or worse yet, someone’s pocket.  But don’t let bad organizations keep you from giving, just find the ones that you can trust and do it with gusto.

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