Today is Giving Tuesday. While Giving Tuesday is only 5 years old, I think it is an excellent antidote to the excesses of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. And the entire holiday season, really. It is just as important, however, to be mindful of the organizations to whom you give.
I remember once, when I was at my grandparents' house for lunch, my grandmother received a phone call, and she went and got her purse and started pulling out her credit card. I asked her what she was doing, and she said the "Cerebral Palsy Foundation" needed donations, and they couldn't take them by check, only by credit card. I told her that was bull, and she needed to hang up the phone. She looked concerned, so I took the phone from her, told the woman on the phone that my grandmother only makes donations to organizations by mail, and hung up. The Cerebral Palsy Foundation may have been a legitimate organization for all I know, but anyone who tells you they can only take donations over the phone by credit card is trying to scam you.
We all know there are a lot of crap foundations out there, but there are a lot of amazing organizations doing amazing work, as well, and since I started working for a non-profit, and have become older and more cynical, I have become more mindful about the causes to which I will donate. If you invite me donate to "breast cancer," believe me, I will be asking to which organization you are donating. A lot of people don't know - or they'll figure out after they've raised the money. Breast cancer is by far the most exploited disease, as far as disreputable organizations are concerned, from what I've seen. You may remember in 2014, an organization calling themselves Breast Cancer Society, Inc. allegedly bilked donors out of $187 million in donations. The leader of the organization has since been banned from running a non-profit.
All of this is to say, I am selective about the organizations to which I will contribute, and I thought I would tell you some of those, just in case you were looking for a good cause.
International Rescue Committee: This has been my cause of choice this year. They respond to the worst humanitarian crises, around the world, and here at home. From Syrian refugees to homeless youth in Los Angeles, IRC is a well-run, reputable organization committed to helping with emergency relief and long-term support.
Wildlife Conservation Network: Works to save endangered species. When I'm donating in honor of children, I generally stick to this one. They do good work.
American Cancer Society: Yes, I donate to my own organization. We work hard to fight cancers of all kinds, and I believe in the work we are doing. All of our financials are public record, so nothing is being hidden; your donations are not buying anyone's private jets. I've met a lot of people who have benefitted from what we do here, so I feel good about donating.
Breast Cancer Research Foundation: A 4-star rated organization, they specialize in, you guessed it, breast cancer research.
Want something a little more local? I also donate to:
Friends of the Shelter/SPCA KY - opposes cruelty to animals, promotes humane treatment, promotes spay/neuter programs, supports shelters
Brighton Center - a local organization that provides everything from emergency assistance, to recovery programs, to children's aid, to senior services.
Rob's Kids - helps children suffering from mental illness, suicide prevention
And of course, this bleeding heart liberal donates to her local NPR station.
Giving Tuesday isn't only about donating money - your time is worth so much. Food banks, homeless shelters, Ronald McDonald House, preparing and serving meals, driving cancer patients to treatment (ask me about this one, if you're interested)...there are so many ways you can give your time to people who need it. Or donate supplies to an animal shelter or homeless shelter.
This is a day to remember the world beyond your small space. A good way to start a habit of giving that will hopefully continue throughout the year. Happy #GivingTuesday!