Attention must be paid to where charitable donations go

The clanging of Salvation Army bells ring in the holiday season. The guilt of walking past a bell-ringer without some sort of donation is unbearable, leading most passerby to drop in, at the very least, the change that has suddenly gotten heavier in their pocket. We do this unquestioningly; the Salvation Army is a charity, and giving to charity is a noble and decent thing to do. But where, however, is that money going?

Though the charity denies it, the Salvation Army has a long history of alleged anti-gay actions, supposedly firing staff members over sexuality and referencing gay clients to debunked ex-gay conversion therapies. Theologically Catholic, some who have different beliefs than the Church may not be comfortable with donating to this organization knowing where the funds go.

Sadly this example is only relatively minor to the questionable deeds of other charities. A report released in June of last year by the Center for Investigative Reporting and Tampa Bay Times lists what appear to be the worst charities in America. Consider Kids Wish Network, a seemingly harmless charity dedicated to raising funds for terminally ill children. However, once the Network’s tax releases were discovered, it was found that approximately a meager 3-4% of annual donations actually go to families in need.

Simply hearing the name “Kids Wish Network” would sway most people to donate without second thought. Knowing what the charity does with that money may change the thoughts of many. Society intensely researches monetary spending in all other aspects of life, whether it be as minor as what clothes to buy or as major as whether or not to buy a house, yet we give to charities without a deeper consideration.

Common Basket is an integral part of community gatherings at BSM, making a large contribution to many sources worldwide. While the charities supported are all chosen for their potential impact and relevance to social problems, many BSM students blindly donate without consulting their personal, and often political, views.

For example, during the 2012-2013 school year, the BSM community elected to give money to North Side Life Care Center––an organization that provides resources to low-income or at-risk mothers-to-be. However, the center’s anti-contraceptive and pro-life stance may have conflicted with students’ personal views.

The only way to ensure the money you choose to donate goes to a worthy cause is to do some research. Preferably, try and find a credible third-party source or look at the charity’s tax returns. While it seems time consuming, most of this information is found via simple Google search.

Charitable giving is important, and this information shouldn’t keep you from acting generously. Rather, society must take a closer look at where we choose to be generous so that the most impact can be made. Give to causes you care about, and that will use your money to advance their purpose.