Charitable giving is a noble and rewarding act. Donations can help change the world; for many of us, it’s a way to give back and support those who need it most. However, not all charities are created equal. Some are outright scams, while others skim off the top and donate only a minuscule percentage of their proceeds to their respective causes. Below we have highlighted some of the worst charities to donate to, how they operate, and what you can do to avoid them.
Many charities exhibit a disturbing trend by raising funds for causes without direct impact. Take, for instance, the National Children’s Cancer Society, where only 3% of the funds go to pediatric cancer patients. The remaining amount goes to fundraising and salaries! When donating, research the cause you’re giving money. If they can’t prove the effectiveness of their charitable giving, you’re better off not donating altogether.
It’s all too common to find religious institutions collecting donations under the guise of charitable giving. While they claim to aid the poor and needy, several organizations are notorious for mega-salaries for their executives rather than helping those in need. They do not need to file tax returns, so auditing or holding them accountable for their actions becomes challenging. This increases the probability of fraudulent activities taking place behind closed doors.
Animal Welfare Charities
While animal welfare is a noble cause, some organizations can deceive donors by claiming to do far more work than they do. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) is one of the most prominent charities that claim they are at the forefront of the fight to end animal abuse. However, the organization’s work does not involve activism to prevent animal cruelty. Instead, they mostly focus on enforcing local laws on the books already.
Veterans and Police Charities
Dozens of charities in the United States claim to support veterans, but only a few directly help veterans, and even fewer help veterans in a meaningful manner. One of the most egregious examples of this is the Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation, which only donates 3-5% of its funds to police-related causes. Instead, they spend most of their money on salaries, fundraisers, and administrative expenses. As a donor, before you donate to any charity claiming to support veterans and police officers, review the organization’s missions, goals, and programs on its website before providing a donation.
Emergency Relief Organizations
The natural compassion that surfaces after an unexpected disaster makes many people, unfortunately, fall victim to scams. The Red Cross Society has been on the receiving end of criticism for the opaque ways they spend and distribute aid funds. After the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the organization raised $500 million, but the locals on the ground have seen little of that money. Instead, the organization built lavish resorts and dolled out salaries to executives. If you want to aid disaster victims, researching an organization with a track record of using relief funds in an effective & transparent way is key.