Think before you donate

In a world filled with an increasing amount of tragedy, many are often left feeling useless as they witness these horrors from the comfort of their safe homes. However, years of developing technology, have provided people far from the disaster with an opportunity to help alleviate the situation. Today, with a simple click, an individual from almost any place in the world has the power to donate money through a charity or a non-profit organization.
With the large amount of commercials and ads that urge people to give charity and evoke feelings of sympathy, people rush to donate. Nowadays, sending money to these organizations is such a simple process that many feel they have a responsibility to donate to these specific charities or organizations. However, these people don’t really know who they are donating to.
Sure, the organizations behind the emotional ads can easily convince consumers into thinking that they will put their money to good use. The problem is that charities and organizations, especially those that have earned strong reputations for their positive actions, can easily misuse the donations that people are so eager to give.
One of the biggest examples of this occured in 2015, when the American Red Cross, an association that provides quick disaster relief and emergency assistance, failed to use donations from 2010 to their full extent. In 2010, Haiti was hit by a massive 7.0 earthquake that damaged most of the country and resulted in many casualties. Following this incident, the Red Cross was quick to start the Haiti Assistance Project, which provided the Haitians affected by the earthquake with medicine, food, and housing. As the Red Cross had received over $487 million for the project, expectations were high.

The Red Cross achieved their goals, providing food and shelter for many people all over Haiti. However, in an investigation conducted by Senator Charles Earnest Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and Senate Finance Committee, it was discovered that a substantial amount of these donations were misused. He stated that the Red Cross “spent $123,876,606.58 out of $487,640,522.14, or 25.4%, on all three categories: management, general and fundraising expenses (MG&F), program costs for all of the Haiti Assistance Project, and contingency”.

Additionally, people are often unaware of the actions of the organizations which they have supported. This idea is shown through People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals(PETA), an animal rights organization, and their shelter in their hometown of Virginia.

Many believe PETA is a strong supporter of animal rights, meaning they protect animals from most types of abuse or mistreatment. However, the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services has recently reported that out of the 2,007 animals in custody at PETA, 1,428 were euthanized.

Misleading information in advertising is one of the reasons that so many people are unaware of the true intentions of the organizations they donate to. Regardless, these organizations and many more do positively help those in need.

It’s a matter of doing your research, carefully identifying the organizations that you support, and feeling confident they will use your donations in an appropriate way. Tools that aid individuals in doing so are websites such as charitynaviagtor.org, which gives statistics and ratings for charities, along with guidestar.org and the Better Business Bureau, both of which provide detailed reports on organizations.

Next time you want to donate, take your time and look into the charities and organizations that you see in advertisements. It is better to wait and know where your money is going, rather than jumping to conclusions based on the claims of visually appealing and thought-provoking

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