|My Team for the Curesearch Walk|
In 2009, I campaigned and raised funds for childhood cancer research with my team in a Curesearch Milestone Walk. I won recognition as the team with the highest funds raised. Last August, I organized and hosted a bake sale for Cookies for Kids Cancer after reading about the founder's son Liam's struggle with cancer. My husband takes part in St. Baldrick's every year. It is always meaningful for us to get others involved and feel we are playing some part in banishing cancer from another child's life.
I like to check out organizations with an online search for how they use the money generated. I use a few sites, starting with Charity Navigator. You can then see the percentage of administrative costs that come out of the revenue generated. The lower the administrative and fund raising costs, the more that goes into actual programs that do the good you want to perpetuate.
In the past, I have found these investigations to be a bit disheartening. I felt that if I had worked hard to raise $4000, what difference did it make when the executive director was earning $280,000? Couldn't he just take a little paycut? It felt like it negated all of my efforts and that of my friends. But it must be remembered, that just as each of my friends contributing $20-40 all added up to thousands of dollars, so too, each teams $2000-$5000 added up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. When a charity, in this case Curesearch, has revenues of over $50 million dollars, that's a lot of adding up! And though Mr. Executive Director has a handsome salary, Curesearch is able to use approximately 95% of the revenue for actual programs! That means millions of dollars going into research for treatments and cures. Just what I wanted. Look, I wouldn't mind if Mr. Exec decided to work for free, but I know most of us wouldn't, we have families to feed, clothe and educate. I can see that of my $4000 contribution, $3800 went directly into programs to do just what I want, and $200 went into making sure they are able to create those programs and raise more funds. Every little bit, can make a difference.
If you are thinking about dedicating some time and effort to a charity, I would advise you to check them out (some of the smaller ones don't have published information, but they should share that information with you when you ask). I would also suggest doing one event per year. I only have so many friends and family, and I think if I tried to fund raise monthly or even quarterly, they would get tired of always being asked to donate and maybe stop taking my calls. It can't bring back our loved ones, and it won't immediately change the world, but taking part can give some physical concreteness to the desire to "do something" when one is powerless to do anything about what has already happened.