Are these the worst charities in America?

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  • rahhb Provo, UT
    June 24, 2013 1:15 p.m.

    A great commentary on the morality of charitable giving in America can be found with this TED Talk by Dan Pallotta. See

    He destroyed the myth of Charitable Overhead.

    From Trevor Neilson at HuffPo:
    "Dan is the author behind a now famous TED talk called "The way we think about charity is dead wrong" that simply and clearly demolished the old silly argument that so many had made a profession of making. The talk has now been seen by almost two million people, and destroyed the ability of self-appointed charity overhead measurement watchdogs to make the case that overhead matters more than results.

    "Overhead ratios are attractive to those looking for a quick uninformed analysis of non-profits because they are simple. It's much harder to measure sustained results.

    "But as Dan so ably points out, those who are fixing the problems of the world should be paid in a way that incentivizes them to solve those problems."

    Check it. It will change your mind.

  • Third try screen name Mapleton, UT
    June 22, 2013 12:43 p.m.

    Is there any data to compare these numbers to...say United Way of Salt Lake?

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    June 22, 2013 8:35 a.m.

    If you know the individual, then give to the individual. At least you'll know that there is a real need that the individual cannot meet without help.

    When a telemarketer calls and asks for a contribution for any charity, I simply ask if him whether he is an unpaid volunteer or whether he is being paid to ask for a donation. If he tells me that he is being paid, I tell him to call back when he believes in his cause enough to volunteer his time.

    There are many people in need. We are free to choose which "agent" to whom we give money. Personally, I restrict my donations to giving to my church, to individuals whom I know, and to a very few organizations that use donations properly.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 21, 2013 9:42 p.m.

    Charity Navigator has some good (and free) ratings. It provides Financial Performance Metrics and defines the one for Program Expenses this way:

    “This measure reflects what percent of its total budget a charity spends on the programs and services it exists to deliver. Dividing a charity's program expenses by its total functional expenses yields this percentage.”

    So, salaries are almost certainly included in the expense figure but these are the salaries of folks who deliver the services.

    For the American Red Cross (just a well-known agency), 92% of funds collected go to programs. For Fundraising Efficiency, 12 cents are spent to raise a dollar. The agency is rated 3 out of 4 stars.

    I checked out two of the agencies named in the article. Both were given strong advisories warning donors.

  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    June 21, 2013 9:34 p.m.

    What? This article is the biggest collection of mumbo jumbo I've ever read! Stop trying to rationalize exorbitant fund-raising costs! If a cause is worthwhile, you can get fund-raisers to donate their time. If almost all your intake goes out the door to pay the help, that should be disclosed to those donating so they realize how little of their donation is going to make it to the "end of the row" and actually help someone.

    It makes me very grateful to be able to donate to Latter-Day Saint Charities, where the overhead is covered by the LDS Church in terms of donated time by members and missionaries. From their mission statement: "Two tenets of humanitarian aid define LDS Charities: 1) One hundred percent of every dollar donated is used to help those in need without regard to race, religion, or ethnic origin, and 2) LDS Charities helps people attain self-sufficiency so they can be self-reliant long after LDS Charities departs." They are not the only charity that adheres to this approach, but it's a far cry from some in this article.

  • m.g. scott clearfield, UT
    June 21, 2013 5:22 p.m.


    "The government keeps overhead on most programs down to around 3-5%"

    Care to validate that statement. No way any program keeps overhead that low unless you don't use cost of employees as part of the overhead. In every business, they will tell you that the cost of the employees is the major factor. And we know our government is very expensive because so many people work for it with better than average pay and much better than average benefits.

  • AC_68 Provo, UT
    June 21, 2013 4:18 p.m.

    --How fun to give that $20 bill to some stranger with his sign, instead of giving it to a Church Leader to distribute out. I mean, both are good to do. But, I like having fun with my charitable giving. I like to see a grown man get as excited as a kid at Christmas.
    Give directly! Avoid All Middlemen !!! 8)

  • Tennor Orem, UT
    June 21, 2013 12:43 p.m.

    This is why I keep my donations to smaller, specific charities. One I support is the XP Family Support Group, helping kids and families dealing with a very rare disease. I know the money is used well.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    June 21, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    [For this reason, Goggins argues that overhead is not the most meaningful way to judge a charity, and the “overhead is bad” narrative can get in the way of more meaningful analysis.]

    To some extent that's true, however when you get to large percentages of overhead that's rather important a detail. The gov't keeps overhead on most programs down to around 3-5%.