Some charities helping themselves

August 7, 2013

We are constantly barraged by organizations asking for our help. Some of the organizations say they are helping starving children, some say they are helping families who have lost everything due to a natural disaster, and some say they are trying to find a cure for disease. Now, any of these, as well as some other misfortunes, are good causes that deserve our support.

However, there is a problem. The problem is not with the people will benefit from our generosity, no. The problem is with the people who shouldn’t benefit from our generosity, such as the presidents and CEOs who run these charities. Now, if you’re like me, and God help you if you are, I figured most of the money donated to charity was used for the purpose of helping others, but nnnoooooooooooo. It appears that the big boys and girls who run some of the charities are doing quite well for themselves at the expense of those who really need help.

I expect this sort of thing from someone like Rooster Edwards, who one time formed a dummy corporation and placed jars in various businesses in an effort to raise some much-needed money, much needed for Rooster that is. According to a misspelled note taped to the front of each jar, the money would benefit the sufferers of a strange disease known as hepmyass. People with this disease supposedly suffer from anxiety, insomnia, headaches, depression, heart palpitations and tightness in the chest among other things

Rooster was doing okay until some intellectually aware soul realized all those symptoms were those suffered by someone undergoing withdrawal from alcohol or drugs. You see, Rooster had depleted his stock of both, and being the lazy, no account degenerate he is, decided the easiest way to earn some money to continue his intoxicated life style was to cheat other people out of their hard-earned money.

However, Rooster’s ill-gotten proceeds don’t come close to what, say Caryl M. Stern, the CEO of UNICEF, receives. Stern hauls in $100,000 a month, yes, a month, which comes out to $1.2 million a year. That’s in addition to an expense account and a Rolls Royce. UNICEF, according to its website, “works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives by providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more.” So how much of the money UNICEF receives goes to the needy children? How about less than five cents of every dollar. I just wonder if Stern ever looks at any of UNICEF’s commercials that show starving children. Hey ho.

Goodwill CEO and owner Mark Curran does even better, raking in $2.3 million a year. Since all the merchandise in a Goodwill store is donated, it doesn’t cost Curran a thing, so his profit margin is through the roof. By the way, Curran’s employees make minimum wage. If these two were exceptions, it might not be so bad, but the truth is the heads of many charities are doing great, with a very small percentage of the money donated going to people who are supposed to be helped by the charities.

American Red Cross President and CEO Marsha J. Evans makes $651,957 plus expenses a year, while United Way President Brian Gallaher makes $375,000 in addition to benefits. The March of Dimes is appropriately named since only a dime of every dollar donated goes to the needy.

Now, there are some organizations that are doing it right. Of the money Make A Wish, St. Jude Research Hospital, Ronald McDonald Houses and Lions Club International receive 100 percent of the donations go for the purpose advertised.

Todd Bassett, commissioner of The Salvation Army, receives $13,000 a year and housing for running a $2 billion organization, while the national commanders of The American Legion, The VFW, the Disabled American Veterans and the Vietnam Veterans Association don’t receive one penny.

The fact that CEOs, presidents and members of the boards of directors of virtually every U.S. business are getting rich, while their employees scrape by – many Wal-Mart employees qualify for food stamps – should be well known by now by everybody, except those who watch Fox News, which doesn’t like to talk about things like this.

However, the fact that the heads of charitable organizations are raking in the big bucks with very little of the millions of dollars donated going to those in need is just plain sickening. These organizations may be non-profits in the eyes of the tax code, but they sure are for-profit when it comes to those in charge.

It’s a tough call as to what to do about this situation. If people were to withhold their donations to UNICEF, The United Way, The American Red Cross or the March of Dimes, or begin taking their clothes and household items to local thrift shops rather than Goodwill, maybe things would change. Of course, I fear that if monetary donations go down, executives would still receive outrageous salaries, while the needy and sick would receive even less help.

Unfortunately, it appears that some people in charge of charitable organizations are more akin to Gordon Gecko, who said, “Greed is good,” rather than Julian Casablancas who said, “Greed is the inventor of injustice as well as the current enforcer.”