Research Advised Before Giving to Charities
Check to see if your money is going where you think it is
ANCHORAGE - First it was Black Friday. Then came Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. This year, for the first time, the following Tuesday has been declared “Giving Tuesday.”
The idea is to get people to give back to their community, financially or through volunteer efforts. But how can you be sure where your money is going?
The Rasmuson Foundation in Anchorage has helped fund hundreds of programs around the state. The communications manager, Cassandra Stalzer, said to do your homework before handing over donations whether it be to local or national charities.
“It's really about finding out the information you want to know to make sure your dollars are being spent in the way you want them to be spent and having the impacts you want to see,” said Stalzer.
At Lutheran Social Services (LSS), volunteers give out enough to feed 40,000 people every year at the food pantry.
“We try to put as much as we can from what we get in straight into the people we're serving, because that's why we're here,” said Andrew Watson, LSS Program Manager.
LSS only puts 30 percent of all donations back into the organization. The rest goes to help people in need. Watson says with the non-profit’s tight budget, it’s all about weighing the costs.
“Then there are other things like painting the building. We can wait another year to do that if it means feeding another thousand or so people,” said Watson.
At the Bird Treatment and Learning Center about half of all donations go directly to the birds. Of course there are overhead expenses like keeping the lights on. To keep costs down the organization relies heavily on volunteers.
“We only have two staff members. Most organizations, the employee costs are their highest costs. With us having about 80 volunteers that help us out. That would be astronomical to hire full-time staff to cover all those duties our volunteers do,” said Executive Director Heather Merewood.
Stalzer says the bottom line is giving is good. Just make sure you know who you’re giving to and how to make your money count.
To see the Better Business Bureau charitable giving guide, click here.