During the holiday season, we are compelled by countless television commercials, billboards and flyers to spend large amounts of money on gifts for our families and friends. More than ever this season though, we are also compelled to give. Many charities across the nation and locally amp up their plea for donations this time of year, waiting outside of local businesses so that we remember to give, and not just to get.
Unfortunately, however easy it is to drop a dollar bill into a bucket on the way out of the grocery store, it’s much harder to track where that money ends up. Generous holiday shoppers may be familiar with one such bucket: the shiny red bucket synonymous with the Salvation Army. What those people may not be immediately aware of though, is the charity’s less-than-stellar track record with the LGBT community.
In 2014, the charity released a statement that stated they proudly serve and hire members of the LGBT community. However, it could be perceived these statements were made as part of a PR response to fallout against the charity for its past anti-LGBT stances.
At one point, the charity held a position statement on their site which claimed scripture forbids intimacy between members of the same sex.
The charity, also up until recently, held links on their website which led to organizations advocating ‘ex-gay’ therapy.
The Salvation is not the only large charity requesting charitable donations in the spirit of the holiday season. The header of the Red Cross website homepage currently reads “Bring hope this holiday season.” Given the Red Cross’ history of mismanaging money though, it’s easy to wonder to whom exactly are monetary donors giving hope to?
In 2010, a massive earthquake devastated Haiti, and a campaign was launched to text “Haiti” to a phone number in order to donate to the Red Cross efforts in Haiti. The campaign was widely successful, with almost half a billion dollars raised. However, in 2015 NPR published an article which asked a question that had not been answered in five years: where did the money go?
The Red Cross at the time was on record for only having built six permanent homes. Even the Haitian former prime minister did not know where the money went. If a charity mismanages half a billion dollars over the span of five years, where is the dollar you give to them this season going?
The overarching theme here seems to be that donations to larger nationally or internationally recognized charities are much harder to keep track of. It’s impossible for a person to know where their dollars are being put to use, and if those dollars are even being put to use at all.
Perhaps the best donated dollar is one that goes to a local cause. It’s much easier to tell if a donation is being put to good use in a community, when the charity or community the donation affects is within driving distance.
Furthermore, a donation locally can consist of more than just money—it can also consist of time. Many charities around the metro accept volunteer work as well as monetary donation. Although it’s never quite 100 percent possible to know where your dollar is going, it’s much easier to know where your time is going when volunteering in person.