Two weeks ago, I cautioned my readers to be very careful when giving to so-called “charities” that are making use of an attractive name usually connected with health issues. Thanks be to God, the American people are extraordinarily generous and there are many organizations providing care to tens of thousands of people and doing it in a very honest and generous manner. Regretfully, however, there are groups and organizations that grab on to one of these appealing names, set up a fund raising mechanism and do very well for themselves financially. These operations are legal! There really is a program! The problem is that the vast majority of the funds that are raised do not go to service the need that is advertised. Usually only 5% actually goes into the work that is connected with the name that is being used.
I referred to the fact that, despicable though it is, these almost legal organizations report to you as to how they are helping to solve the problem at hand, but all they are really doing is using the name to generate money for themselves. I specifically referred to Heart Support of America and the National Cancer Research Center. Aren’t heart and cancer major issues? Aren’t those nice names?
The sad fact about this is that these legal but unethical operations are operating within the confines of the law. They actually do work on the issue but they are using the sensitivity of their fellow Americans to fill their pockets with money. Only about 5% goes to the work whose name they are using. The other is eaten up by fund raising costs and, of course, profits. The people conducting the drive are the ones who decide how much they are to pay themselves!
Today I have another example. I was contacted by phone and urged to give to the Hospice Fund of America. I have tremendous respect for the hospice movement and have been on the board of Hospice Austin for many years. Hospice is a movement that developed about fifty years ago in England and thankfully has moved into this country very effectively. The hospice is a special need for our times because so many families are scattered across the entire country and when death is approaching, it is harder for younger members of the family to provide proper care to those who are approaching death. I asked the promoters to send me a financial report as to how their funds are allocated. Thankfully, they have to do this in order to remain legal or the government would be able to move against them unless they fulfill the letter of the law. Hospice Fund of America sent me their report. They were very proud of the fact that 5% of the money that they raise went to hospice care. They didn’t tell me how they decided who got that little 5%.
Most charitable programs are honest but fund raising is awfully difficult and these technically legal efforts to raise money, touching the hearts of generous Americans, are actually making honest fund raising more difficult because people want to help but are justifiably suspicious. We should all reach out to do all the help that we can. As President Reagan said, “Trust but verify.”
EDITOR’s NOTE- There is a fully legitimate, wonderful organization called the Hospice FOUNDATION of America, who’s name can be so easily confused with the organization noted above (the Hospice FUND of America) that we initially had posted the Foundation’s logo on this page- and for that, we profoundly apologize.