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Jul 6 2011 / Opinion Article

Charities Are An Industry


Canadian Cancer Society Spends More On Fund Raising Than Research

I have to admit that as I have gotten older I have contributed less and less to big name charities and contribute more to those charities that I see working within my own community or those that I know are not spending my hard earned cash paying salaries, advertising, mailing out junk mail, etc. I really like an organization that is staffed with volunteers. I give to the local food bank and I love giving to the Salvation Army when they have Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas meals.

This morning I was really annoyed to hear about the Canadian Cancer Society supposedly spending more on fund raising than on research.

Yesterday an article ran on CBC Marketplace and this morning I read this post over at Huffington and this article in the Globe and Mail. I am sure it is all over the web but sadly I am not surprised.

Citizens have become pretty jaded the last 10 years what with two major recessions, governments that seem to be ineffective, politicians that seem to care more about being re-elected and their perks than assisting constituents. I know this is a broad brush and there are many within all these organizations that do have the "right stuff" and have the best interests of citizens first, but the perception among citizens seems to be that those with the citizens best interests are in the minority and always fighting an uphill battle.

Today many charities are big business. They have presidents, vice presidents, managers, supervisors, office complexes, marketing gurus, ad consultants, publicists, lawyers and well it seems almost endless.

I realize that running a charity is not an easy job and donations are down during this recession, but honestly all I need is an ad once a quarter that says "We spend 90% of your contribution actually fighting cancer". Or how about "Only 10% of your contribution goes to running our charity". That's all I need. I understand that there are always costs and I know that fund raising is difficult and important, so why not become realistic and spend the billions of dollars raised on actually researching rather than fund raising.

This is why I have annually decreased my charitable donations to what arguable have become large businesses. At times I wonder if they might as well become public companies with shareholders and trade on stock exchanges.

The bigger problem that I witness every day is negativity. It is so easy to be negative. I prefer to take a positive approach. After all I think being positive is an important part of investing for one self and in a bigger picture, I think it assists my overall health and well being.

So what can I as a lone citizen do to still contribute to the benefit of my society? After all if no one cares, imagine the world we would live in. I have figured out that when I give locally I more often than not, see the actual results. Here are 7 examples.

1) I prefer to give to my local schools when they are in need of books, technology purchases or such educational supplies. I know when I give them money they are buying exactly what they have told me they are in need of. None of that money is being used to pay the teacher, professor, support workers or principal.

2) I like to give to the local Teen Challenge as again I know that when I donate a used vehicle, it is a terrific assistance to that wonderful organization.

3) My local Church will indicate clearly if they need money for a wheelchair to assist a parishioner, food services for a shut-in, repair to a roof or window.

4) Recently locally students got together and did a clothing and utensil drive and donated the clothes and household products directly to needy families in the area.

5) Every year Christmas in my local community they have a "Santa" parade asking for gifts for needy families in my local area. They send a list of the type of things to consider and I love to help. Again when I buy a book and donate it I know it is money well spent and none of it is going to "pay for gas" for delivering it or for the "time" cost for a volunteer to sort and hand out the gifts.

6) I have a very large extended family. When one of my nieces or nephews graduates I love buying something that says "Good for you", "Keep it up". I look at it as a charitable donation that I see the results from.

7) Sometimes my local hospital has a piece of capital equipment such as an MRI or Dialysis Equipment that they need. They call or send me a request indicating exactly the cost and I know I am giving my money to be used to purchase something that is badly needed. None of it is going to administration, who's salary is already being paid for.

Many charities seem to have lost sight of what the word "Charity" stands for. I am sure there are many more charitable organizations and ways in which we can escape "charitable industries" as I like to call them. As well many local charities such as my local School, Hospital, Church, Salvation Army and Teen Challenge give tax receipts. But when I donate I am more concerned about how much I have helped rather than how big is the tax break.

Today in the mail I received address stickers from one charity, a free notepad from another and a calendar for next year from yet another charity. I don't need this so please stop spending charitable dollars sending junk in the mail. Instead send me a pledge form that re-assures me that 90% of my money is going specifically to the intended charitable work I am sponsoring, otherwise I prefer to continue giving my hard earned money to local charitable efforts where I see the difference.

This article is just my opinion and is not intended to offend.

Teddi Knight



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