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Old 05-08-2006, 10:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
 
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NGOs: Good, bad, and ugly?

What do you know about various Non-Governmental Organizations?

How do you decide which NGO/charity to donate money to?

Where can I get an objective view of some of these NGOs to make sure they're doing the right thing with donations?

These are the questions I'm trying to figure out right now, and I figured TFP'ers probably know a lot more than I do about this topic.

I have had a lot of exposure to faith-based organizations, but I am not very interested in supporting those financially. That leaves me with the Red Cross and a few other choices.

I was introduced to CARE International when I worked in rural Zambia last summer, and I've considered donating to them... but I just want to make sure there isn't some hidden agenda or history of corruption, etc (as there often is with some other NGO's).

Does anyone have experience with some of the major NGOs, and can you recommend which ones have better or worse reputations?

Thank you!!
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Old 05-08-2006, 11:48 AM   #2 (permalink)
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I have given in the past to the American Cancer Society. They are not a NOG. They do good work.
http://www.cancer.org/docroot/home/index.asp

Last edited by Ample; 05-08-2006 at 11:50 AM..
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Old 05-08-2006, 12:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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In some countries they view NGOs with skepticism do to lots of corruption and graft, especially smaller lesser known NGOs.

I treat my donations to organizations like I do giving to homeless people. I give what I can. If I try to figure out what is the best, what are they going to do with the money, how are they going to use it, if they use it in ways that go along with my values, I've spent too much time trying to figure it out.

I try to donate to causes that I believe in on it's face. When I find out that they have issues, corruption, graft, etc. I stop and find another one.
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Old 05-08-2006, 02:51 PM   #4 (permalink)
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CharityWatch is a pretty good resouce for checking out various charities... (i think it's interesting to see the charties that didn't comply with this groups request for information... makes me wonder what they are hiding...
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Old 05-08-2006, 05:57 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Oops

Kel posting as acetylene again dang it!
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Old 05-08-2006, 06:00 PM   #6 (permalink)
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National Rifle Association
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I think Darfur and many african countries where despots and slave traders terrorize the populace through a UN/US supported monopoly on force could be much better off. NRA and GOA are the only ones at bat fighting off UN small arms treaties that seek to give exclusive rights to use of force to governments no matter how corrupt or evil they are. That is something I want to prevent. More important then money, donate your time!
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Last edited by kel; 05-08-2006 at 06:02 PM..
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Old 05-08-2006, 06:45 PM   #7 (permalink)
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The national NGOs are of course better known; but if you're willing to do some digging to find them, you're better off giving to local NGOs or local chapters of national NGOs (with earmarks that the $$$ should be spent locally for projects that you deem important). Food banks, homeless shelters, senior centers, nonprofit schools, job training programs, battered women's shelters, suicide prevention, literacy groups, nonprofit youth activities groups, even organizations that support the public parks and libraries.

Outfits like the American Red Cross are big and bureaucratic, with their own agendas, and when you give them $$ for a specific catastrophe, there's no guarantee that it'll go there; it might go to agency overhead. Every few years the Red Cross "reforms," but they go back to their old tricks when the noise subsides. They did it with Katrina. My father and step-father, both WWII vets, shared an abiding hatred of the ARC because they took donations to "help support our boys in battle" and basically did very little for the average dogface (plenty for the officers, though). My stepfather says, "At least the Salvation Army got us hot coffee and donuts!"

Hell, I gave to the Humane Society for Katrina relief, for care of lost or abandoned animals , and it turns out that even they diverted funds to other projects.

Among US-focused national NGOs, Goodwill Industries always has a lot of problems on the local level because of lax oversight. All those donations go into their warehouses and the managers have a lot of leeway to skim the best and divert it to resellers who pay them a kickback. Sometimes the local executive director has been involved.
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Old 05-09-2006, 01:09 AM   #8 (permalink)
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If an NGO is reputable it will report how much per dollar donated is used for overhead and how much actually goes toward direct effort. I never felt the need, but it probably isn't too hard to do that first level of research.

luscious and I use Amnesty branded checks. and we bought a really nice hemp checkbook from Amnesty, too. I don't know the ins and outs of their specific financial expenditures and such, but our checks have Incite hope and Defend human rights, and free prisoners of conscious, and a picture of clasped hands watermarked across them. so at the end of the day, we've left a message we agree with in someone's till.
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Old 05-09-2006, 03:50 AM   #9 (permalink)
 
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Thanks all for your replies. Mal, your website is most helpful; my only question is, how come there are no charities graded lower than a B?

Cyn, I think you're right to some extent... I just like to put in a bit of time to find out if there are glaring problems with some of the charities I know about before depositing my money there. But I understand your point... don't want to get into "paralysis by analysis."

I'll look into what some of you have said... thanks again for the tips.
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Old 05-09-2006, 05:06 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abaya
Thanks all for your replies. Mal, your website is most helpful; my only question is, how come there are no charities graded lower than a B?

Cyn, I think you're right to some extent... I just like to put in a bit of time to find out if there are glaring problems with some of the charities I know about before depositing my money there. But I understand your point... don't want to get into "paralysis by analysis."

I'll look into what some of you have said... thanks again for the tips.
That's exactly what I mean by "on it's face." With the advent of the internet all sins of companies, organizations and people can be culled and examined for years upon years. Glaring problems will be apparent immediately, just don't kick yourself for the later, if and when something comes up of "if only I had digged just a little deeper."

My actions in themselves are honorable and that's what matters. Me tithing/donating to any organization is itself honorable. What they do after that is betwen them and their god/conscience, not mine.
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Old 05-10-2006, 08:48 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Today one of the world's great citizens is celebrating his birthday. I really respect everything that Bono does in 3rd world countries. He has done a lot from the AIDS work to debt assistance to food assistance.

Check out more here
data.org
one.org
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Old 05-12-2006, 09:11 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maleficent
CharityWatch is a pretty good resouce for checking out various charities... (i think it's interesting to see the charties that didn't comply with this groups request for information... makes me wonder what they are hiding...
Well, I think I can tell you why United Way won't give info out ...

I donate primarily to the Red Cross, since they're so widespread and visible, have low overhead, and are honest and reputable. One of my friends did Katrina relief with Hands on USA, a small group that is currently working on rebuilding on the Mississippi coast. They're a small, honest organization without the bureacracy of big organizations.
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Old 05-12-2006, 12:06 PM   #13 (permalink)
 
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Thanks again guys. Actually, I have been looking into a charity called The Smile Train... they use 100% of public donations to pay for cleft-lip surgeries (done by local surgeons) of kids in developing countries. It seems pretty straight-up.

I know there are tons of good charities out there, I just try to rotate through different ones now and then... so this one will be up next for me.
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Old 05-12-2006, 12:59 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by abaya
Thanks again guys. Actually, I have been looking into a charity called The Smile Train... they use 100% of public donations to pay for cleft-lip surgeries (done by local surgeons) of kids in developing countries. It seems pretty straight-up.

I know there are tons of good charities out there, I just try to rotate through different ones now and then... so this one will be up next for me.
Nice I know of a number of doctors that go to those countries to do the surgeries...
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