What causes do you donate to?

1/19/2010:

Each time there’s a giant disaster of some kind on this planet – the same thought come to my mind: “Oh, that’s terrible,” and wish for the best for those affected. Tragic acts of nature are impossible to avoid, and will continue forever.

Haiti looters fight and beat each other after earthquake

What makes gargantuan tragedies any different?

OK, I understand that anytime “large scale” events take place, they get more attention and need more “help” to clean up, recover from, and so on. But to me, it’s not as simple as that.

Seems that the recent colossal earthquake in Haiti has garnered more attention than any non-U.S. event in history. With all the new communication methods (Twitter, Facebook, SMS) it seems like everyone and their brother are supposedly “chipping in” for the cause. Is that necessarily a problem? Not really – it’s human nature after all – but with each ensuing biblical catastrophe, more pesky questions keep coming up.

What about us?

Homeless man on Newark Street by CVS Hoboken NJI’ll bet anything, that because of the enormity of this recent earthquake, that hundreds of thousands of individuals donated to the cause – but have never given to a local charity in their home town. I’d suspect it could even be seen as “trendy” to give, because “everyone else is,” and due to the massive coverage and marketing (“As seen on TV!”) they’re just reaching more people.

Believe it or not, there are bigger problems in the world – and even our own country! Starvation, homelessness, poverty and more. But because it doesn’t happen in one dramatic fell swoop – we tend not to notice – or care – as much. Why is that? Why do we gravitate so heavily towards the sensational?

Just imagine how much better our own country would be, if we just helped each other out more. Whether it’s your family, a neighbor, the elderly, a complete stranger and so on – if we just collectively stepped our own game up 1% more, and not wait till all hell breaks loose – we might see some surprising results. Then again, we all love “blockbusters,” right?

An opportunity for others?

Another thing that comes along with these disasters is the alarming number of groups, businesses and other organizations who all of a sudden feel the need to put together some kind of marketing scheme. Like adding the word “Haiti” to your event, store sale, gathering or charity is the buzz-word of the month. Are they doing it solely because of the tragedy? Or is there some underlying objective to “gain” something for themselves? (Money, exposure, attention). Can’t they just give to an existing and well-established charity on their own? Need it be publicized?

What about these charities?

I always wondered how people easily open their wallets for most charity organizations – without knowing much about them. In just the same manner in which governments and companies need to be audited, who’s watching the charities? How do we know they’re using your money efficiently? Or not “funneling” some money off the top in some nefarious way? Just because the “cause” is admirable, doesn’t mean some hanky-panky isn’t going on behind the scenes.

There’s so much money flying around at such a furious and urgent pace, from so many places, it’s impossible to keep track of what’s going on! How much is really needed? While I definitely feel that manpower and resources are necessary more than anything else, is it possible that they already met the fiscal requirements, and all that’s left is time and patience? I mean the “red zone” of damage in Haiti isn’t too much bigger than Hoboken (although other less severe damage was spread out around approx 20+ sq. miles). The logistics for handling disasters like this in an efficient manner is probably the biggest problem we’ll always have. You can never be fully prepared.

Some may frown upon my reasonable doubts and consider them unacceptable. But look at what happened with once untouchable institutions such as the churches (sexual abuse, money laundering, etc.)

It could very be that I’m the only one that sees beyond the desperate images of rubble and despair…

I’ll stick with my “one good deed a day” motto of living and keep it at that.

24 Responses

  1. getz76 says:

    Interesting topic.

    My advice – ALWAYS check the expense ratio for charitable organizations. Watch out for organizations that have highly paid fundraisers. Get the financial statements of the organization and do some math. You may be surprised.

    In addition to donating money, try to donate time in some respect. I am part of the Charity Committee at work. Helps organize office donating for selected causes and also looks nice on a resume. There is the warm feeling of deposited karma as well.

    My favorite charities…

    http://www.stbaldricks.org is a charity for kids with cancer. Great expense ratio. I donate time and money. And hair.

    http://www.naganoproject.org is a new charity to give people access to alternative medicine and treatment. Again, great ratio. I donate services/time and money

    http://www.ijm.org , or the International Justice Mission is a human rights organization. Stories here will break your heart the way people treat each other. I donate money.

    http://www.crs.org , or Catholic Relief Services. Overall well run, good expense ratio, not evangelical.

    The Salvation Army is also a great way to donate for local needs.

  2. NorthKrissy says:

    Agreed. So many places in need right in our backyard that are ignored or overlooked.

  3. hobokenj says:

    It is the trend factor. With everyone so connected people want to be seen as a “Good Person” and if you dont post something on facebook about Haiti your a bad person. people bragging they were the first to post about xyz relief fund. So what. People are more concerned with there image rather than the actual event they are claiming is so important to them.

    • whineanddineinhob says:

      So true. George Clooney for one.

      In response to hobokenj who said:

      It is the trend factor. With everyone so connected people want to be seen as a “Good Person” and if you dont post something on facebook about Haiti your a bad person. people bragging they were the first to post about xyz relief fund. So what. People are more concerned with there image rather than the actual event they are claiming is so important to them.

    • getz76 says:

      Once things get preachy or judgmental, it is out of line. I do not mind people pushing their charity or cause and trying to get attention. It is easy enough to ignore.

      For example, I love animals. However, I do not donate to the ASPCA. It breaks my heart that people treat animals poorly, but not as much as some other things. I can only give so much. If people want to give to ASPCA, good on them. Their money. However, I was ripped by someone some years ago as being a “barbarian” because I did not “defend the defenseless”. Really…

      Self-important types (seems rampant in entertainment-types) are tough to swallow at times…

      In response to hobokenj who said:

      It is the trend factor. With everyone so connected people want to be seen as a “Good Person” and if you dont post something on facebook about Haiti your a bad person. people bragging they were the first to post about xyz relief fund. So what. People are more concerned with there image rather than the actual event they are claiming is so important to them.

  4. KenOn10 says:

    I donated to the Red Cross through my job, since the company matches dollar for dollar.

    Here are my personal favorites:

    – the Adirondack Mountain Club, a force in regional environmental issues, in addition to maintaining trails and lodges in the High Peaks, etc.

    – the Hoboken Shelter, a demonstrated track record for rehabilitating the down and out.

    Yeah, and when I see him, I give a few bucks to Bobby, the guy who looks a bit like a spaced out Jesus. He’s been in Hoboken for years and I’ve heard all kinds of stories about what’s wrong with him and how he got that way. Bottom line, he needs the help.

  5. whineanddineinhob says:

    And the latest news about Haiti is that the United States is looking to avoid a “mass exodus” into the country. No matter what we’ve done and accomplished, the U.S. will still come out looking like the bad guy. The jails in Haiti have been ripped open, the criminals now freed, and yet we’ll be blasted for not opening up our doors freely to everone who want to come here. Yet New Orleans is not fully restored on our own map.

  6. mooshu says:

    I donate time and money to the Symposia Bookstore/Project whenever I can. The owners not only bring the community together but they also hold numerous charity events per year, selling their books and donating all proceeds to organizations like Make-a-Wish (which is great) and so forth.

    • jc5201 says:

      Thank you 411, that commercial makes me smile. Life is hard, and the little things — a smile, holding the door, a please and a thank you go a long way. I’ve learned that I don’t always know what the other person is going through.

      As far as organized charities, I support Habitat for Humanity of Hudson County because they build locally, empower the families who will live in the houses through sweat equity, sometimes save neighborhoods, and I know that the only full time employee often goes months with out being paid.

      When the opportunity arises, I also donate old furniture and clothes to the Salvation Army because I personally know people who have gotten their lives back with the help of this organization.

      In response to mooshu who said:

      I donate time and money to the Symposia Bookstore/Project whenever I can. The owners not only bring the community together but they also hold numerous charity events per year, selling their books and donating all proceeds to organizations like Make-a-Wish (which is great) and so forth.

  7. mooshu says:

    What’s becoming scary about all this is that victims and helpers alike are running out of basics like water (which, as you know, hydrates and cleanses) and diseases are becoming more and more likely to manifest and spread…

  8. mcgato says:

    The NY Times republished a good cartoon in their Sunday edition:
    http://audio.dispatch.com/data/stahler/images/stahler.jpg

    After 9/11, I sent a donation to the Red Cross along with company matching information. I felt that they have done and continue to do excellent work around the globe, and they could use some extra funds to continue that work. Then someone decided that every post-9/11 donation should be for the families of the victims of the attacks. My donation was to Red Cross to use where they felt it would do the most good.

    Post Katrina, I felt that the US infrastructure should have been in place for such an event. But W felt that the head of an Arabian horse group was the best person to coordinate such things. Idiot.

    I recently sent a check to Doctors Without Borders (I like Nobel winners) with company matching info. They do good work around the globe and they probably are going to need money to continue that work.

    I do other things locally, but it usually doesn’t involve a check.

  9. nacholibre says:

    I had a case with a sham charity and what I learned was that it is perfectly legal to start a “charity” and keep 99.9% of what you collect as long as you don’t make any claims that a different percentage will go straight to the intended cause. Same goes for the fundraising companies that keep most of the donation. In this day and age it’s amazing people get away with this with interweb sites like Google and RipOffReport. In the above case, I knew all 3 companies were shite within 45 seconds of pecking on the keyboard.

    Any charity or fundraiser must be registered in NJ and have all the required forms on file annually. If anyone has a charity they aren’t sure about, have Perry get you in touch since I have worked with the state agency that regulates these and they have some nice authority they can exercise. People that take money intended for people who REALLY need it have a special place in hell waiting for them.

    I hear a bunch of federales may be set to Haiti and I would love to volunteer but there is no way I would be heading there without a couple heaters :)

  10. nacholibre says:

    I forgot to add that by working in Brick City I already have had the required immersion training just like the simulated Afghanistan towns on U.S. bases that give deploying soldiers a little taste.

  11. TheGreenMan says:

    This all sounds like a veiled rationalization to not give to me. Yeah, it’s “cool” to give to Haiti, but how is that bad? Any way they can get money (through the right channels) is great.

    Doing a good deed every day isn’t the kind of change that’s needed sometimes. Holding a door or giving your seat up on the bus is the RIGHT thing to do, but it shouldn’t come in place of giving when you can and when it also is the right thing to do.

    It’s a shame more people don’t give locally–they should. There are plenty in need here. If someone feels that way and would rather give here than to Haiti, then maybe this will spur you to actually do it and not just say you will “someday” or hope someone else does. Take the money you might already give to Haiti and instead, give that same amount (heck–give more) to a local, reputable charity instead. Even better, give your time to a food bank, soup kitchen, Habitat for Humanity…whatever you can do.

  12. nacholibre says:

    Just got the email from HQ looking for volunteers for a 2 week trip there. Preference given to those with basic French or Spanish skills, luckily I paid attention in high school Spanish.

    “HOLA NIÑOS! ME LLAMO Matt Foley y yo soy un ‘MOTIVATIONAL speaker.’ Yo tengo trecenta y cinco ain-yose, yo yoy-soy tres divorciado, y yo vivo en VAN CERCA-DE-UN-RIO!”

    Seriously, hope I can help out and be H411’s Haiti bureau correspondent.

  13. HobokenRox says:

    “There are bigger problems in the world – and even our own country!” – Hoboken411

    Did you honestly write that? I completely agree with you that we should all be more generous in helping, volunteering and donating to our local charities (of which I heavily do). However, you can’t compare a global tragedy where up to 200,000 people have just died and tens of thousands more will die without proper medical treatment (that can be easily provided through donations to the Red Cross) to the picture you posted of an unfortunate drunk passed out in front of an ATM.

    Yeah…our country is full of problems and life’s not fair..blah, blah, blah….but don’t try to downplay an urgent disaster just because they poor victims aren’t Americans. Haitans are just as human as we are…and they are not all a bunch of rock and bat wielding rioters as you are trying to portray in the top picture.

    I am an avid reader and supporter of Hoboken411…must say I’m just a bit surprised by your tactics to endorse local charitable giving. Hopefully, every Hobokenite realizes just how blessed we all are.

  14. xyzpdq says:

    Hoboken411 does a service by starting a conversation here about the challenges of charity. My frustration? Millions have been raised for Haiti but are not getting to the people who need it most. So many want to help but only the Israeli Defense Forces are able to set up temporary hospitals that work in time to save lives. What a sad mess. I pray for those people who aren’t getting the help they so desperately need.

  15. Downtown Dude says:

    Does anyone know of any places in Hoboken where I can donate goods (canned food, paper towels, etc.) and get a receipt. I do not have a car so Hoboke only please.

    I used to donate to the Hoboken Shelter on 3rd but they only give you a receipt when you donate cash. Quite frankly I don’t trust most non-profit entites so I wouldrather offer goods which can be used or eaten. I just dn’t get why they give you a donation receipt for goods. It just makes me wonder why cash only. It also makes me second guess the case.

    Thanks.

    • plywood says:

      You might want to try In Jesus’ Name Pantry at 5th and Willow (between the church and the school in the alley. I don’t know their policy on receipting but they are completely legit.

      In response to Downtown Dude who said:

      Does anyone know of any places in Hoboken where I can donate goods (canned food, paper towels, etc.) and get a receipt. I do not have a car so Hoboke only please.

      I used to donate to the Hoboken Shelter on 3rd but they only give you a receipt when you donate cash. Quite frankly I don’t trust most non-profit entites so I wouldrather offer goods which can be used or eaten. I just dn’t get why they give you a donation receipt for goods. It just makes me wonder why cash only. It also makes me second guess the case.

      Thanks.

      • Downtown Dude says:

        Thanks Plywood I will check them out.

        In response to plywood who said:

        You might want to try In Jesus’ Name Pantry at 5th and Willow (between the church and the school in the alley. I don’t know their policy on receipting but they are completely legit.

    • whineanddineinhob says:

      Yeah, I guess there is nothing like giving from the heart and being pissed cause you get nothing in return.

      In response to Downtown Dude who said:

      Does anyone know of any places in Hoboken where I can donate goods (canned food, paper towels, etc.) and get a receipt. I do not have a car so Hoboke only please.

      I used to donate to the Hoboken Shelter on 3rd but they only give you a receipt when you donate cash. Quite frankly I don’t trust most non-profit entites so I wouldrather offer goods which can be used or eaten. I just dn’t get why they give you a donation receipt for goods. It just makes me wonder why cash only. It also makes me second guess the case.

      Thanks.

      • Downtown Dude says:

        Actually WHINEANDDINEINHOB I like to do from the heart quite often, but with the amount that I am donating (over $3,000 in goods) I would like to reduce my taxable income. I’d be a fool not to do that. I think that with Obama in the White House we’d all be fools not do to everything posible to reduce or taxable incomes. Don’t you?

        Thanks for the info PLYWOOD. In Jesus’ name charities takes a certain amount of goods and offers a receipt. Below is the link if anyone else on here would like to help out locally. They are affiliated with a few churches/synagoguesin town so it makes droping off items very easy.

        http://www.injesusnamecharities.org/

        In response to whineanddineinhob who said:

        Yeah, I guess there is nothing like giving from the heart and being pissed cause you get nothing in return.

  16. plywood says:

    I am glad that Downtown Dude had a positive experience with In Jesus’ Name Pantry. Others looking to donate food (or food gift cards) can do so by either going to post 20 in this thread or calling 201-792-2112. They are also supported by Redeemer Hoboken (dot com). Let me be the first to thank you.

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