Thinking of donating to a third party relief fund? Please read this.

When I worked at the restaurant, we did regular charity drives. One of them in particular struck me as particularly gross because we advertised that “100% of all donations go to Such-and-Such charity” but if you read the fine print, you found out that that after they took “operation costs” out. On top of that, the charity itself took operation costs out of that amount. In the end, for every dollar that a customer donated, the actual CAUSE they were donating to only got 10 cents. 

Ten. Bloody. Cents.

I can understand the charity in question using the money to help keep their operation running- that’s what it’s for! In this case, however, there WERE no “operation costs” to my restaurant. The charity provided all the necessary materials, all of the employees would have been working those shifts anyway…in fact, the only extra work that my work had to do was a) attend meetings and agree to participate in the fundraiser, and  b) add a button to their POS. That’s….it. So why did my employer take a sizable chunk* out of every dollar that was donated for themselves? Are the executives involved in making that decision THAT highly paid? I know I sure wasn’t!

This came to my mind today because I’m noticing a lot of pop up fundraisers to help the Philippines recover from Typhoon Haiyan. Most of them donate some percentage of net proceeds only. Most of them are donating the results to the Red Cross, which is infamous for not only taking exorbitant amounts of money out of donations for “operation costs” but also for failing to utilize donations in an effective manner. (See: Hurricane Sandy and the Red Cross versus Occupy Sandy debacle.)

With all this in mind…thoroughly research who you are donating through and avoid third parties (especially corporate ones).  Taking a moment to donate directly to a reputable charity will ensure that more of your donation is used for the people who need it, and less will line the pockets of executives taking advantage of a disaster.

Thank you for your attention.



* Post script, in the interest of being honest/accurate: It has been almost a year since this charity occurred. Thinking about it now, I cannot actually remember the exact amount that was taken out by my employer. I do know it was a ridiculously high amount for an “event” that cost them next to nothing, and that customers who thought to ask, usually chose not to donate after being told.