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Sunday, November 28, 2010


On Thanksgiving, I did a post on a couple of topics - charity work, turkey and prepping.  I thought the yams and stuffing comments would bring the firestorm  - I have VERY strong beliefs on the subject :-)

Instead, the charity topic got the blood boiling:

Quick overview: My family handed out food baskets, and I noted that a few of the recipient families did not appear to need the assistance. I was having some personal moral issues with being judgmental.

The donation group from the church that does the vetting of the recipients chose to allow one "family" (quite large - 3 turkeys and boxes) which they knew did not need help, to get a package.

One of the things I like about private charities is that they can discriminate (unlike the government).  They can pick and choose who gets helped with their limited resources.

I won't participate with organizations that have a policy of helping, "All who ask".  I believe in targeted assistance, not broadcast assistance.

I worry that donors to this church charity will see the poor choice the vetting group made with this family, and will donate elsewhere next year...

As a number of commentors noted, this attitude of, "I take the stuff because I can" is a big reason our country is in this mess we find ourselves in.  Too many of us have come to expect assistance. 

Subsidized living has become a lifestyle.

THAT'S what burns my butt.

Also as a number of folks pointed out, the gift is in the giving.  My family and I are giving our time and money for what we believe to be the right reasons. This whole deal has gotten me thinking, though.

I was talking with one of my employees about this, and he asked me if I were given the proposition that for a $500 donation, I was told up front that $100 of it would go to undeserving people and $400 would go to very deserving people, would I still make the donation?

I said yes.

I've since changed my mind.  If this charity knew that they were pissing away 20% of their resources, that goes against my core beliefs.  It's like having a 20% Stupidity Tax.  No thanks.

I understand that $400 worth of assistance would not be going to worthy folks, but that's not my problem.  It's the problem of the charity. 

They chose to have a vetting process which acknowledges 20% waste.  Unlike the federal government, I am unable to print up more money to fill in the gaps.  I want every one of my dollars making an impact, not just $0.80 worth.

Accept The Challenge

With Christmas coming up, the push for donations will increase.  In our precious metals store, we get people coming in on a daily basis asking for donations to local groups.  So far, we've given, but only to charities we've had prior experience with.

If you are able to donate time and/or money, I urge you to discriminate.  Perhaps do some research on the various local and national groups you know about, and get educated on their process.

Here's an article on ways to judge the effectivness of some charites.

Here's a link to The American Institute of Philanthropy ( which purports to evaluate charities on a number of different levels.

As I will be doing with the church group, let your opinions be heard.  Tell them that you will not participate if the group knowingly provides assistance to people that are not in need.

Or perhaps your beliefs are to help all who ask.  You'd want to steer away from charities that target specific persons for help. 

It's your time and money - spend them as you see fit.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. Please note that in addition to owning Bison Risk Management, Chief Instructor is also a partner in a precious metals business. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


Andrea said...

Thanks for the great links.

By the way, I forget to take issue with the sweet potatoes and cranberry comments in your last post LOL. The only casserole I made this year that was absolutely scraped clean: sweet potatoes with spicy peppery topping!

Anonymous said...

As far as charitable donations, I only give to the Salvation Army. It seems that they are one of the very few groups that DO NOT have questionable distribution ethics. Too many organizations have "excess overhead" issues. :-(

commoncents said...

THANK YOU for posting this!! I love your blog...

Common Cents

Chief Instructor said...

Andrea, glad the links help.

Now, regarding sweet potatoes: NO SALE! I had a grandmother who supposedly made the absolute best sweet potatoes. They might as well have been candy, with all of the marshmallows and sugar and cinnamon and butter.

They were disgusting! Sorry, they're just not of this world! They were brought here on an asteroid that had passed by the planet Disgust-a-tron, and we've been saddled with them ever since.

Dan, that's kind of interesting. The Salvation Army is one of the national charities I won't support.

Two of the reasons: They have a stated policy of "Economic Justice"

A vital component of The Salvation Army's mission is to "meet human need in His name without discrimination." The Army's commitment to economic justice was expressed in 1890 by the organization's founder, William Booth, in his "Cab Horse Charter:"

"... every Cab Horse in London has Three things: a shelter for the night, food for its stomach, and work allotted to it by which it can earn its corn. These are the two points of the Cab Horse's Charter. When he is down he is helped up, and while he lives he has food, shelter and work. That, although a humble standard, is at present absolutely unattainable by millions of our fellow men and women in this country."

Humans are not Cab Horses to be cared for, they're people. Sounds like communism to me. Nothing about individual freedom and aspirations. Just "go earn your corn".

I've read a number of stories such as this one that just rub me the wrong way.

Now, you are very right, they do give an incredibly high percentage of their donations out as support, and have a very high rating (A or A-) from CharityWatch.

Steve, regular reader Suek would like to have a word with you. Out back. In a dark alley.

I'd run if I were you... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Everyone has their likes and dislikes. I like chocolate and hate artichokes. But for what it's worth, sweet potatoes are a nutritional bomb. Rich in vitamins and minerals. In my prep planning it is the vitamins and trace minerals that are elusive (well the chocolate too). There are a handful of foods that don't offer good protein or lots of calories but they do offer mega-doses of vitamins. The trick is to find a way to store them. Pumpkins and winter squashes are fairly comparable to sweet potatoes and both are easy to grow and store well.

suek said...

My family is from New England. We have turkey, mashed potatoes, dressing (used to be stuffing, but my daughter has developed a gluten intolerance, so now it's dressing. Same thing, but heated separately from the turkey), boiled onions, squash, rutabagas and cranberry sauce. And every year when my kids were little and wanted to know why we ate the "funny" vegetables, we explained to them that before there was refrigeration and frozen foods, those funny vegetables were the only one available in late November.

I have a California son who eats the turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing/dressing. He always wants to know where the 'green' veggies are. This, of course, is the son who claims he gets all the vegetables he needs on his fast food ... they put lettuce and tomatoes on them, you know!

And the last few years, we've had others join us, and each wants to add the "special" food of their upbringing, so now we also have the sweet potato dish and this year, Ambrosia.

There's something for everyone! (because if there isn't, just bring whatever - we'll make room on the table!)

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, yeah, I know they're good for ya, but I still won't eat them. I just hope I don't end up like Scarlett O'Hara digging up her rotten carrots....

Sue, wow, Ambrosia. When I was a kid, one of my grandmothers always had Ambrosia at Thanksgiving. It was to bring a bit of summer to the cold winter. It was canned fruit, of course, but we gobbled it up nonetheless!

Anonymous said...

I grew up in New England many years ago and Rutabagas were a staple at our house. Mash them with a little sugar and butter. We also had an egg nog drink called Tom & Jerry. I never had any as a kid so I don't even know what it tasted like but the adults sure liked it.

suek said...


Do you have a Joy of Cooking?? Hot Tom and Jerry's are in there...

As I remember it...(and we still have them on New Year's Day)

Eggs (number depending on how many to be served)
Sugar (_mucho_ sugar)
Hot milk
Brandy-Bourbon mix... 1 part brandy to 3 parts Bourbon, I think. We make up a pint or so every couple of years. It keeps.

Beat the eggs, add the sugar till the mix is like a cake batter - very thick. This can be prepared ahead and kept in the frig for a day or so.
We use mugs that are about 8 oz.
Build the drink: put a hefty tablespoon - or two - of the batter into the cup, add one jigger of the BB mix, fill with hot milk. Foam will rise to the top - sprinkle with nutmeg and serve. It's pretty good!

Dad always served with saltines. I'm not so sure about those!