Many of us want to change the world for the better but don’t know where to start. Most lack the resources or connections to make a lasting impact on struggling communities. That doesn’t mean our good intentions have to stop there, though.
Thankfully, there are amazing organizations that have already done most of the legwork for us; these organizations can use individual and business support in volunteer power and donations to aid developing nations.
However, how can we be sure the agency we’re helping is actually doing what they’re saying? With recent news reporting how some nonprofits aren’t delivering on their promises or may be using funding for their own gain, it can make us wary of donating a single dollar to any charity.
Obviously, there are groups out there that fulfill their mission and make a positive difference, but how can you tell the good from the questionable? Although it would take more than one article to list them all, here are some to watch out for as well as ones you can trust.
Bad News First
Not all nonprofits act like one. Due to a variety of factors, certain organizations have fallen short of their altruistic goals.
Some charities have taken the right course of action to correct their wrongdoing, but some of them have not. No matter the case, here are nonprofits that have experienced their fair share of scandals:
- The Red Cross: The Red Cross has come under the public’s microscope more than once concerning the way they allocate donations. The Red Cross is known for disaster relief and blood donations.
However, they’re also becoming known for the way they handle their finances and responses to disasters — and not in a good way. They have shown reluctance in divulging how much is actually spent on relief and have proven unwilling to provide the necessary information to become a more transparent organization.
Although they are praised for the aid they provide during smaller scale crises, climate change has only made these disasters worse, calling for a different public health response.
When it came to events like the earthquake in Haiti and Hurricane Harvey, some articles stated that The Red Cross overpromised on what it can provide and sometimes arrived on scene unprepared to actually provide adequate care.
- Cancer Fund of America: Thankfully, this isn’t an organization you can donate to anymore. The founder, James Reynolds, Sr., would have you believe that your donations would go to help patients fighting cancer and similar causes.
However, all of it was a sham. Instead of using donations for their intended purpose, the money was spent on salaries, telemarketing, and various perks such as new cars and vacation trips. In fact, only 2.5 percent of the millions of dollars the Cancer Fund of America received actually went to charity.
After years of fundraising and claims of using 100 percent of the donations for the fight against cancer, their lies finally caught up to the Reynolds family and the Cancer Fund of America was shut down in 2016.
- Feed the Children: We’ve all seen the Feed the Children commercials featuring the president of the nonprofit: Larry Jones. They were heartbreaking to watch, prompting even the hardest of souls to donate something. However, the seemingly good-natured man shown on TV was not as benevolent as he was made out to be.
During Jones’ almost 30 years of presidency over the nonprofit, several incidents occurred questioning how well he was actually leading the organization. Staff members regularly helped themselves to donated goods and Jones’ son was loaned over $900,000 that he could not pay back.
Furthermore, Jones would make important decisions without board approval, such as giving the company his son worked at an exorbitant amount of money each year. With forgery of financial documents, wiretapping the organization’s offices, and a slew of other misdeeds under his belt too, Jones was finally removed in 2011, landing himself in CharityWatch’s Hall of Shame.
The Best for Last
There are ethical nonprofits you can partner with — there’s no doubt about it. Although your trust for these groups may have wavered, don’t let the actions of others prevent you from participating in the good other organizations are doing. Here are a few you should know:
- The School Fund: Knowledge is one of the most important gifts you can give anyone. Through education, individuals can learn more about the world around them and help them achieve things they never thought possible before.
The nonprofit, The School Fund, facilitates the giving of this gift to children in impoverished countries through crowdfunding on their website. You can participate in a variety of ways in spreading education throughout the globe.
First, you can choose to donate to a specific child or join The School Fund’s monthly giving program to have your donation allocated to students who need it most.
You can also launch a fundraising campaign or simply share a child’s story on social media to spread awareness. Receipts are posted on the site to give donors peace of mind that their monetary gifts are going to the right places as well.
- Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps is involved in a variety of issues that plague developing countries. They provide aid to war-stricken areas and communities affected by natural disasters. Their mission statement is to “alleviate suffering, poverty and oppression by helping people build secure, productive and just communities.”
They target countries that are in transition phases due to recent political, economical, or natural unrest and focus on local movements and leaders to rebuild a more stable and sustainable community. Really, it doesn’t seem like there’s anything Mercy Corps doesn’t do.
In their “Our Work” section on their website, some of the kinds of aid they list includes: agriculture, conflict management, education, environment, food security, water, health, and so much more.
Of course, like many nonprofits, you can show your support by providing financial donations. However, there are also volunteer options and employment opportunities as well if you want more of a commitment.
- Shared Interest: Not many can boast being the only 100 percent fair trade lender in the world, but Shared Interest can. Shared Interest provides financial and business support to fair trade small businesses in developing countries all over the world.
Unlike other nonprofits that deal with loans, you cannot choose which businesses or individuals to invest in. That way they can manage the investments and donations more effectively and meet the needs of as many businesses as possible.
Because of this, Shared Interest has helped over 400 businesses in over 50 countries, resulting in the funding of almost 400,000 people. As mentioned before, you can help by investing in Shared Interest or you can also donate or volunteer your time.
Not all nonprofits are charitable in nature, even though they should be. Like with anything, you need to do your research to determine the legitimate ones from the scams. Use your better judgment to decide whether a charity truly does what their mission entails. Then you can know for sure the help you give is towards the betterment of this world.