Oh Donations, We’re Begging You Please

NOTE: This was supposed to be posted on December 30, 2015 but end of year bad stuff happened and it didn’t get done.

(Apologies to Simon and Garfunkle for transposing the lyrics to “Cecilia” to fit my title.)

It’s the end of the year so it must be donation time.

Back when I had money I would donate to left-leaning causes and PACs. I want Citizen United overturned and I want big money out of our politics. These days politicians don’t even try to hide the fact they have been bought and sold by the wealthy in this country. And while I’ve been broadly affected by the Great Recession of 2008, apparently these non-profits didn’t get the memo. In a single day I get multiple emails written in panicked tones that these organizations need to meet their year-end funding goals if I could just send them $15, $25, or $50 to help out.

A quarter of my weekly grocery budget is $15.

Just because a group has the label of non-profit does not mean that executives/board members don’t draw a salary. Some of those incomes are outrageous for organizations that are supposed to be helping others. Seems like they are helping themselves first. Granted not all non-profits do this, but the laws allow the controlling board members to get paid for their time.

Back in 2011 I discovered the Coffee Party, a supposedly non-partisan political group that wanted to overturn Citizens United and foster civil and fact-based discussion about the problems that our nation faces. When they decided to sell memberships and get organized I signed on and was one of the founding members. Then came the application for non-profit status.

Before the application I had been part of many intelligent and rewarding discussion with both the organizers and general forum users. Questions were answered with useful explanations, everyone was on the same level and willing to help however they could. But when they organized as a  501(c)4 non-profit and gave certain members officer positions the helpfulness stopped in its tracks. Questions sent to the Membership Officer went unanswered, the forums became heavily moderated, and the spirit of purpose was completely lost. In fact the entire group has fallen off the political radar; a Google search only showed articles from 2010 with almost nothing after that.

Did you know that the Red Cross is being run by former executives of AT&T? The organization was running over budget so “business people” were brought in to fix it. Unfortunately a corporate business model does not work well for a non-profit, which is supposed to serve. Control was taken away from the local Red Cross Chapters and a top-down management structure was enacted. Needless to say it has failed miserably because when disasters happen the local Chapter knows better than anyone what is needed and what resources are available.

For a detailed article on the status of the Red Cross from 2014, go here: https://www.propublica.org/article/the-corporate-takeover-of-the-red-cross

So to summarize, organizations who pay their top people very well want people like me to give them money. Even AARP wants money from me and I’m one of the people they are supposed to be helping. Under-employed for over 10 years, rejected from jobs due to my age, no retirement, no savings, no income, and I’m supposed to pay them.

Robert Reich stop emailing me; it’s over.

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