published Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Consumer Watch: Charitable suggestions for year-end giving


by Ellen Phillips

Continuing on with charitable organizations, this week’s column suggests charities worth putting your money where your mouth is, compliments of Real Simple magazine. (Note: the list doesn’t take into consideration certain worthwhile groups like St. Jude’s, Ronald McDonald House, Make-a-Wish, and so forth.) In the past, I’ve written about specific local charities, such as this newspaper’s Neediest Cases; unless you prefer to keep your donations strictly local, then you might like Real Simple’s organizations found within.

* Action Against Hunger feeds hungry kids around the world and helps communities to grow their own food sources. By delivering aid to 7 million people in more than 40 countries yearly, the group also has taught more than 43,000 Kenyans to establish veggie gardens and plant crops resistant to drought. A $45 donation provides 45 days of special energy-dense food for a severely malnourished child.

* Charity: Water ensures that people in developing countries (800 million) are able to access clean, safe drinking water. Important: 100 percent of public donations are used to fund clean water projects. A $64 donation provides a filter – thus, clean water – to one Southeast Asian family.

* Direct Relief International provides medical help to all 50 states and internationally to victims of poverty, natural disasters, and civil unrest. An important note is that the group spends nearly 99 percent on medical assistance. A $250 donation provides equipment and supplies for a midwife to safely deliver 10 babies in a warring African region.

* Humane Society of the U.S. cares for animals and protects them from cruelty. The Society improves the lives of over 75,000 animals annually and offers free services, such as spaying and neutering clinics, medical treatment, and emergency and rescue care. (Just think of the animals displaced and injured by Hurricane Sandy). A $100 donation provides medical care to an abused cat or dog and shelter while it awaits adoption.

* Partners in Health helps the poor with health care. While employing medical workers in 10 countries, it additionally treats thousands of victims in devastating earthquakes, floods, and so forth, including epidemics. A $120 donation supplies a cholera-treatment site in Haiti with three days’ worth of disinfectant.

* Save the Children tries to eliminate the worst problems in childhood, including poverty, disease, illiteracy, and hunger, that wreak havoc upon kids in the United States and around the world. (I like this charity because it helps American children.) It delivers direct assistance, like food and medicine but also provides educational and technological access and stability. A $70 donation provides education to an Afghani girl for one year and pays for fees, uniforms, books, and other supplies.

* Scholarship America provides college scholarships and financial aid to American students and also helps grassroots groups set up their own assistance programs to help with tuition. The largest provider of private scholarships, Scholarship America awards more than $2.9 billion to 1.9 million students. Even better, it spends 97 percent of its total budget on its programs. A $50 donation provides an annual bus pass so that a community college student can commute to school.

Be sure when deciding to what and for what to contribute when a natural disaster occurs:

How much money are you willing (or able) to give in the coming year?

Allocate 80 percent of that total amount to your favorite charities. Try to break it into monthly payments.

Set aside the remaining 20 percent for emergency donations. This enables you to help when a disaster occurs without hurting the organization(s) to which you usually give.

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. She may be reached at consumerwatch @times free press.com.

about Ellen Phillips...

Ellen Phillips is a retired English teacher who has written two consumer-oriented books. Her Consumer Watch column appears on Saturdays in the Business section of the paper. An expanded version is at www.timesfreepress.com under Local Business.

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