Denny’s Daily Zinger: Two Kinds of Charities: Good & Bad

Charity Navigator rates good charities.

Charity Navigator lists bad charities.

Here’s a sleazeball scenario.
Contemplate this only somewhat fictitious example: A “charity” is created to educate the public about the common cold. It hires a professional fundraiser to conduct a direct mail campaign to raise money. (Telemarketing can be easily substituted for direct mail here.) The direct mail copy provides a statistic on how many people annually catch a cold and includes the following tips on how to avoid it: Wear a hat, eat soup and avoid people who sneeze.

Three years of nationwide mailings produce $10 million in contributions. The professional fundraiser bills the charity for $9.75 million. The remaining $250,000 is consumed primarily by the executive director’s salary. The charity’s management determines that the mailing had a dual purpose of soliciting money and educating the public about the common cold. Thus, on its annual report (and its Internal revenue Service Form 990) 50 percent of the $9.75 million that was paid to the fund raiser can be counted as a program expense because the charity says it educates the public. Not a bad percentage for a “start-up” charity. But what exactly is the benefit to society that makes this charity worthy of donor support and tax exemption?
—Clarine Nardi Riddle, Connecticut Attorney General
, “The Chronicle of Philanthropy, Jan. 9,1990

Where to Find Good Charities
My advice: Connect with Charity Navigator

The mission: separate the good guys from the bad guys.

[See the images in the media player at right for a sampling.]

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His next book will be “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com or contact him at dennyhatch@yahoo.com.

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.
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