In a recent post I was talking about how it’s getting harder to do good in the world, and I mentioned how many of the charities out there ask for rather high minimum donations. While I was eating lunch a commercial for Wounded Warriors came on and it made it obvious what one of the problems with these charities is.
Part of the problem with some charities, and the reason why they won’t accept lower donations is the fact that they waste money giving people gifts for their donations. Knowing that you helped a worthy cause should be the only gift you need for giving, but many charities seem to think that they need to give physical rewards in exchange for people’s donations. While this may seem like good incentive to donate, it’s actually a waste of funds.
Wounded Warrior is offering fleece blankets in exchange for donations. The ASPCA offers magazine subscriptions and fabric bags. The WWF (not to be confused with the WWE) gives stuffed toys and stickers. This may seem nice, but it’s actually a waste of funds that could be going to the cause. If these charities weren’t spending money on toys and bags to give out to people, they’d have lower overhead and could give more of the money to the cause. If they weren’t trying to lure people into giving by offering them more useless stuff that they don’t need, they could accept smaller donations and still have enough to do good with.
I think that charities should stop wasting money on these useless trinkets and put the money into the cause. One thing these places don’t seem to realize is that if smaller donations were accepted, more people would give and they’d get more money in the long run. I can’t count the number of times I’ve gone to a website, ready to give, only to leave because the minimum amount was more than I could afford. I’m sure I’m not alone. If they’d waste less, they could take smaller donations and put them to use, and more people would be willing to give because they could fit it into their budget. Lower costs, more donations, more funds for the cause. It sounds like a winning combination to me.
What do you think of charities spending money on donation gifts? Do you think they should stop so that they can take lower donation amounts and put more of the money into the cause instead of back into promotional items?