learn how charities spend your money
Ready to make an end of year donation? Some things to think about
Millions of people donate their hard-earned dollars to charities every year. This is what keeps many of our private social programs and services going, as well as the arts, public spaces and other causes that the government does not handle. Without donations, many of the services, programs and safety nets of our society would not exist today.
But before you write that check to your favorite cause, think about a few things.
- How much of your donation will actually be used to help the charity's programs?
- Will your dollars stay local?
- What else will your money be used for?
- Who is managing the funds that I donate?
Many people today assume that any charity making a claim to help some one/cause will do just that. But unfortunately, many charities large and small do not spend as much on their causes as you think. Much of what's donated is often lost to administrative costs, salaries, advertising, fundraising and other expenses by the organization. Although this is a necessary expense, many would be surprised to learn that it can consume 40, 60 even 90 percents of all donated funds!
Unfortunately, many charities (even some well known ones) focus more on their operations than helping their intended cause. Huge salaries, travel expenses, consultants, political lobbying, bonuses and lavish celebrity fundraisers can easily eat up a charity's revenue, leaving little to fund actual programs for the needy. Unfortunately, these expenses are often legitimate under the current tax code. Excessive spending on these areas isn't always illegal, as long as the charity shows no real profit at the end of the year. Just because its legal, doesn't mean its right.
Our purpose at Catholic Charities of Trenton is to help those in need, period. We don't exist solely for lavish events, or for public attention. You won't find inflated salaries, high dollar consultants, or lavish expense accounts here, just hard working people looking to make a difference. When it comes to ethics, we answer to a 'higher authority' than most.
How can a charity raise money without major expenses?
This question is often thrown in as a defense for lavish spending. Gotta spend money to make money. Well, we at Catholic Charities of Trenton disagree. Yes, we have administrative expenses, we do advertise, we have paid staff and we do hold fundraisers. But still, we manage to have over 90 percent of all revenues go directly to programs for people in need. A number we're quite proud of, and will continue to meet every year.
How can my 'local' donation go somewhere else?
This is an issue that happens a lot with larger charities. Causes are set up for a regional or local programs, but funds raised often go into a larger pool for the main organization. Sometimes local fundraising ends up supporting causes not related to the ones people think of.
Often popular causes such as disaster relief, bring in a surge of donations. This often is used to fund smaller, unrelated causes in order to balance their books. Most large charities won't admit this fact, but it happens more than people think.
When you donate to Catholic Charities of Trenton, you're supporting an effective and efficient organization that helps local causes. We operate programs in four New Jersey counties alone, so you know exactly where your money goes.