5 Things About Charities That Just Aren't True
Low overhead isn't always a sign of greatness
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Dec 28, 2012 1:04 PM CST
The Sugar Bowl is ... a charity!   (?)

(Newser) – The fiscal cliff isn't the only looming financial deadline. Just a few days remain to give to charity in 2012, and Ken Stern would prefer you not make your decision "hastily, based on poor information." Writing for the Washington Post, the former NPR exec and author of this upcoming book dispels five myths clouding the topic:

  1. It's not all about the poor: There are 1.1 million charities in America ... including Oregon's Renegade Roller Derby team, the All Colorado Beer Festival, and countless hospitals. Stern explains it's "astonishingly easy" to form a charity, with the IRS OKing 99.5% of applications from would-be charities.

  1. Low overhead is a sign of greatness: A number of charity raters favor those who put upward of 85% of their income toward services, with those using just a sliver of cash on expenses often seen as the best. But investing in things like research and training can make for stronger charities. To wit, Stern reminds us that the Red Cross' Hurricane Katrina and Sandy issues stemmed in part from inadequate investment "in the infrastructure necessary to handle complex emergency relief."
  2. Picking a great charity to give to is easy: "In fact, it is enormously difficult," writes Stern who, as example, points out that more than 60,000 charities have the word "veteran" in their names. His solution isn't the easiest: Work at it. "On average, Americans spend more time watching television in one day than they do researching charities in an entire year." Put the time in, review studies published by GiveWell, and look beyond famous leaders or catchy stories.
Click for two more myths, including the idea that nonprofits aren't profitable.

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Showing 3 of 14 comments
Dec 29, 2012 11:45 AM CST
Why contribute to any non-profit or not for profit that pays their executives more than $500,000 between wages and benefits? In terms of responsibility, do any of them have more than the President who makes $400,000 per year? Furthermore, cut off all Government money going to organizations in these categories--Red Cross, universities to include Government loans to students, hospitals, not-for-profit medical insurance companies, etc. There is no place in this Country where a person has difficulty living comfortably on such wages. The time is long overdue to get the greed out of the executives and employees of nonprofit and not-for-profit organizations!
Dec 29, 2012 8:57 AM CST
TO "HANKHILL" -- NO problem! My tax money will make the contribution you suggested. And the title of our elected leader is "President." Show some respect, or have zero credibility.
Dec 29, 2012 8:30 AM CST
caliph barak hussein obama is giving money (ours) and fighter jets to his new best arab pals in egypt! the muzzibrohood! these are the very same guys that want to kill the infidel (us) and any one else who gets in there way! he has also sent our money and weapons to other stone cold arab killers around the world! welcome to obamastan!