Charitable donations skyrocket during the holiday season with many people giving to organizations that fight everything from poverty to animal rights to sexual assault. With more media coverage of these issues than ever before, people are finding that these issues matter to them — and their checkbooks.
The problem with charitable organization is not just the ethics behind donating to them, but the process by which a person donates to an organization. Charities have proliferated in recent years, meaning that many charities exist for one organization. According to Charity Navigator, more than 20 national organizations exist in the United States to fight breast cancer, and more than 50 international charities to fight poverty in African countries. With so many options catering to different causes, it can be difficult for the consumer to distinguish between the most efficient and ethical organizations and the organizations that use excessive funds on advertising and salaries.
Many of the most popular organizations to donate to, such as PETA, Susan G. Komen, Autism Speaks, Feed A Child, and Salvation Army, are some of the least efficient and insensitive organizations in the United States. Autism Speaks, PETA, and Feed A Child have all come under fire for controversial decisions and advertising that reinforces stereotypes of oppressed groups, according to CharityWatch. Susan G. Komen has also made controversial decisions in its allocations of funding to the salaries of high-level employees, and Salvation Army has been the subject to multiple allegations of homophobia.
One of the cruel ironies of donating to charitable organizations is that many of the most recognized charities make some of the most problematic decisions. Many large organizations have a corporation-like structure and a large portion of their money goes to maintaining their large structure rather than to direct aid. The solution? Go small.
Small and localized charities are some of the best organizations to donate to because middlemen are cut out, meaning your money is much more likely to efficiently go to direct aid. Some local charities to keep in mind are Womenspace, a local organization dedicated to aiding survivors of domestic violence, and Ophelia’s Place, another local organization that provides counseling and empowerment to women.
However, there are large charities that are worthy of a positive mention. Amnesty International, Books for Africa, and Doctors Without Borders are all organizations worthy of donations because of their work and efficiency.
The most important thing to do before donating to charities is to research them. Charities may not accurately represent a marginalized group or spend a large portion on direct aid.