I wanted to take the time to respond to Jacob’s fantastic blog post last week on the Red Cross that you can find here. I’ve always been interested in giving back, and have worked for several different charitable organizations. Jacob’s article was of considerable interest to me as I have heard of scandals within charitable organizations, and if you’re interested in those types of companies please give his blog post a read. This week I took a look into charitable organizations that are in the same general category as the Red Cross, which is a multipurpose human service organization. Using a organization called Charity Navigator, which funnily enough is a charitable organization, I first took a look at what Red Cross was rated. This organization rates charities on a variety of factors such as overall accountability and transparency, as well as financials. The Red Cross was rated as a 3/4 star charity, with a score of 74.03 out of 100 for financial and 93 for accountability and transparency. It was nice to see, or rather worrying, that the Red Cross had a 74 for its finances, which mirrors what Jacob has mentioned in his blog post. After taking a brief look at the Red Cross, I wanted to take a look at what 4 star organizations there were in the same category. One that I found that was very similar to the type of work of the Red Cross was Feeding America.
While Feeding America isn’t as multinational as the Red Cross, it still provides a great mission. Feeding America is “…the nationwide network of 200 food banks that leads the fight against hunger in the United States. Together, we provide food to more than 46 million people through 60,000 food pantries and meal programs in communities across America.” Something about this charity that really struck my eye was how much money was spent on the program and services it provides. 98.5% of its total expenses are spent on programs, as compared to 90.3% for the Red Cross. I think that this metric is especially important because when we think of donating to an organization we believe that it is going straight towards the cause that they support. While there are expenses that need to be covered, it is great to see that most money used by each organization is actually put towards the programs that they put on.
Overall in this post I wanted to discuss the purpose of what a charity should be like. There’s no perfect mold that a charity needs to fit into, as every charity fulfills its own purpose and meaning. However, as we have seen with the Red Cross as illustrated by Jacob there are times where these charitable organizations falter away from their mission. There is no such thing I believe as a perfect charitable organization, as it is just that, an organization. An organization is not without flaws, but its ability to manage them is what sets it apart from others. Feeding America might excel in areas such as percentage of expenses dedicated to programs and services, but the Red Cross arguably affects more people around the world. No charity is perfect but with the public watching organizations such as the Red Cross and making sure they uphold their mission, I think we can get pretty close to perfect.