About two weeks ago, I received a call from someone at the Firefighters Charitable Foundation asking for a donation. Of course, they don't start the conversation out that way. They start out asking if you have ever known a victim of a fire. Obviously, most people have. So I answered, "Sure."
The guy didn't really seem to know how to respond, so he said "OK" and continued reading his script. I continued listening to his pitch and then of course he asked if I would donate money. I told him to send me me some information about the foundation along with a financial report so I could evaluate their organization.
He responded, "Great, how much will you donate." I told him again, that it would depend on their organizations financial report. He said, "Ok, do you think you will donate $25?" Again, I stated that I need to read the financial report first. Finally, the guy reiterates everything we already talked about and said he would mail me the information.
This week I received a letter in the mail from the foundation. Inside the envelope was a pamphlet, a letter asking for a $25 donation, and a return envelope. No financial information at all.
I did like the PS on the bottom of the letter, "P.S. An additional gift of $2.00 to your original pledge can help raise additional funds." Really? If I give you 2 more dollars, that is more money you would have? Wow, I never realized that. Thanks for the tip!
I was simple going to pitch the information, but I thought I will at least spend a few minutes looking up the website to see if they have any financial information available there. For whatever reason the website would not load.
So I decided to try one more thing. I checked them out on Charity Navigator. The latest data available was for the year ending 2007. Their revenue was $4.1 million. The expenses were $4.2 million.
So far, it doesn't sound too good. They spend more than they make. As I continued to look more closely at the data I saw that $3.5 million was spent on fundraising and $245,000 was spent on administration. So that means about 91% of their revenue last year went to something other than the main purpose of the foundation!
If you want to donate to victims of fires, your best bet is to support your local agencies. Always evaluate who you are giving money too. You might be surprised to find out where your money is going.
Always thinking here at Doe Valley.