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How Do I Choose Where to Donate My Money? Or Spend It?


This week was “Giving Tuesday”, a day that has captivated consumers into funnelling some of the shopping mania (of the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend) into charitable giving.

One of the huge questions that potential donors have is: what happens to my money when I donate?

It’s a great question, and a worthy one to ask. “Not-for-profit” has never been synonymous with “no money” and there are many non-profit executives who are very wealthy as a result of their efforts. This is something to keep an eye for, and certainly a cause for concern, especially in charities that serve the poor.

On the flip side, Dan Pallotta in his TEDTalk encouraged people to begin thinking differently about charity and “overhead”. Why does overhead have to be a bad word? Maybe investing in marketing is what generates the interest that bring new donations and involvement to revitalize a charity?


 

Charity:water is an organization that straddles both of these sides of the equation, in their attempt to “do charity differently”. Their overhead is far from scrimpy. Their offices are in Manhattan, with salaries to sustain their employees’ lifestyle expenses for residing in one of the most pricey cities in the world. Charity:water’s design/brand is world-class and invested in heavily. And, their events are BIG.

BUT, charity:water also developed a model where 100% of their operating costs are funded by a group of private donors, called The Well (you can read more about this in founder Scott Harrison’s book, Thirst). From their office space, to the credit card fees, everything is covered; ensuring that any individual donation goes entirely towards water projects.

These are all valuable parameters to assess when donating money to a non-profit. And, many of us do assess them closely & carefully! We want to know that every dollar that we give is doing its best work.


 

But, do we apply that same standard of scrutiny to the for profit organizations to which we give our money?

I may not like the executive director of a charity living in a mansion, but do I care about the CEO of a company where I bought my new shirt? Back to Bezos… does it cross my mind how he uses the dollars accrued on my Prime purchases? Do I wonder about the 7 Walton family members who each have fortunes over $5 billion (3 of whom over $48 billion) when I shop at Walmart?

These are just two examples, but they are apt because of both the extremity of the wealth and also the frequency that we all interact with these businesses. But, the same principle is true for so, so many of our purchases.

My challenge for each other this season is to consider our spending and what happens to those dollars (eventually). If I would think twice about a $100 donation to a charity, may I think twice about my $100 purchase and where the money will land (as well as my other options for spending it).


Also: Friends of Basha is an excellent & essential charity that supplements the work done by Basha (our artisans who make the blankets). Friends of Basha runs training programs, houses girls in vulnerable family situations, provides daycare support & healthy snacks (which have improved the overall health of the children of Basha), and more.


Donate to Friends of Basha here >


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