Letter: Study carefully non-profits before making donations
Recently on page A6 of the Bemidji Pioneer was a short article on "Non-profit head tightens reins after perks disclosure." It was such a bland disclosure that a little more insight should be explored. First, we must understand a simple fact: the ...
Recently on page A6 of the Bemidji Pioneer was a short article on "Non-profit head tightens reins after perks disclosure." It was such a bland disclosure that a little more insight should be explored. First, we must understand a simple fact: the field of non-profits continues to expand at a very rapid rate. We've all heard the saying, "Why did Willie Sutton rob banks?" It is simple, that's where the money was.
Well, the non-profit "industry" is just that, an industry with very few oversights, totally uncontrolled from a control standpoint. During the years of teaching advanced investment and strategy financial planning across the country, I taught many classes and seminars on the subject, asking students to really study the so-called modern phenomenon of this growing industry.
When you receive the daily deluge of requests for donations do the following: Write on the request for a donation that you desire to have a copy of the organization 990 form, which is a standard tax report, but interestingly will show you the salaries of the executive group and the percentage of all donations, which actually is used for the purpose of the non-profit organization.
If you get a telephone solicitation, request from the caller a copy of the 990, which by federal law they must respond. Upon receipt of this, know two things. Your telephone number will be coded with a "C" which refers to you as a possible critic and your name cannot be sold to other non-profits, which is a normal and customary practice between non-profits. You will find the calls will drop off. This simple practice will totally open up your eyes to what the organization is doing with your money to some extent.
Another strong recommendation is to keep your donations going to the local and visible non-profits and service organizations in your area. Very few people actually realize that "non-profits" is such a huge industry with so few controls. Your dollars are important to our local organizations where your neighbors and fellow local citizens really watch over the money, but once your dollars go out of the area, you'll rarely, if ever, really know how those precious donations are used.
Please do the one thing I've recommended (request the Form 990) and educate yourself. I'll guarantee to every small or big donor your eyes will be opened.
Daniel H. Gumphrey