Always be careful who you’re giving money to

The last few months you may have seen these public service announcements where NFL players and/or celebrities talk on screen about domestic violence. They tug at your heartstrings and direct you to http://nomore.org/

At this website you are invited to join the cause. By joining the cause they mean the usual modern way of joining the cause. This typically involves the use of hashtags, selfies, saying how much you support the cause to your friends & family, and of course, of course, giving money. You can buy things you see, lots of things to support the cause:

nomore

So being the cynical asshole that I am, my first question became:

Who’s bankrolling all this and where’s the money going?

When you browse their website, they’re not all that upfront on who’s running the show. After strolling through government records, I figured out that the actual organization running this effort is Joyful Heart Foundation http://joyfulheartfoundation.org/

Joyful Heart Foundation is Mariska Hargitay’s organization founded in 2004. They’re a non-profit 501 group.

So I go to http://www.charitynavigator.org and discover that Joyful Heart Foundation has a program output number of 58.4%. In other words, when you buy that $26 tank top, only $15 goes to actual domestic violence programs. The rest goes to sustain Joyful Heart Foundation.

You can read it yourself here:

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=14229#.VKqy_clOld9

Maile Zambuto, Joyful Heart Foundation CEO, makes $299K a year or 9% of the Foundation’s annual donation intake. In other words, at least $2 of your $26 tank top goes just to pay the salary of one person.

So like, I don’t want to be too negative here. I’m sure these Joyful Heart Foundation people mean well and are trying their best. They might also support some really cool programs. But 58.4% is a pathetic number. As a back of the napkin idea, if a charity does not hit the number of around 80%, they’re not doing a good job with the money they’re given.

Mariska Hargitay, all these NFL players, all these actors have thrown their weight behind an organization that posts only 58.4%. It’s wrong. The only reason Joyful Heart Foundation has this much pull is because they’re in New York and they’re run by a celebrity. So now they’ll take millions and millions of donations from charities that are run far better.

Here’s an example of a better run domestic violence organization:

http://www.ccfinorman.org/

I don’t know these people, I just randomly grabbed Center for Children and Families, Inc off the Charity Navigator website. Any time you are thinking of giving money, go first to Charity Navigator. Center for Children and Families posts a number of 81.8%:

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=13206#.VKqzpclOld8

The Executive Director, Katie Fitzgerald, makes $62K a year or 4% of intake. That’s 1/5 the boss salary for Joyful Heart. I’m sure Joyful Heart Foundation is a much larger and more complex organization, but really? Is it really worth five times as much money just to pay the boss?

I’m not saying you should give all your money to Center for Children and Families and none to Joyful Heart Foundation. Or maybe I am? I guess? I guess I’m just saying please, please, please always be careful who you’re giving money to. Some organizations really deserve / need your cash more than others.

Do your research. Be smart with your time and money before you give. At the very least, take note that on the Center for Children and Families website, they’re not sporting celebrities or tank tops for sale.

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