We were shocked and saddened to hear about the recent scandal involving Allied Veterans of the World and Florida’s lieutenant governor, Jennifer Carroll. It is reported that the veterans charity operated as a front for an online gambling business, with only about two percent of earnings going to veterans. Much of the earnings went to political campaigns, lobbying and expensive cars. The business operated within a loophole of Florida law, enabling the operation of online “sweepstakes cafes” as long as the proceeds are donated to charity. Arrests have now been made for money laundering and racketeering.
As reprehensible as this scandal is, the good news is that you can take a stand. Have you donated or volunteered for a nonprofit helping vets that you feel is worthy of praise? Have you seen the difference a nonprofit has made in someone’s life? Do you know of an organization helping veterans and their families? Now is the time to write a review and let everyone know about it. Former donors of Allied Veterans of the World will be looking for a new place to donate, and you can help guide them to nonprofits doing the most good for our veterans.
Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan recently got himself in hot water for “volunteering” at St.Vincent De Paul Society. Ryan may not have understood the true essence of volunteering at a soup kitchen, but you can. Below are our Top 10 Soup Kitchens to Volunteer For, according to reviews by volunteers!
SoSA uses tens of thousands of volunteers to glean farmers’ fields and orchards after harvest for nutritious produce that would otherwise be plowed under or left to rot
GNP users say – “SOSA is one of the best charities that we, as a family have volunteered in. The organizers are extremely personable and down to earth people. Children are not only accommodated but their participation is valued. Its so wonderful to be out there in an orchard or farm connecting to nature and you’re benefiting the hungry in the process.”
The soup kitchen provides food for those who are in need and also empowers them through partnerships with other community and social agencies
GNP users say – “This is a great service to the persons in need of the West Philadelphia area. They not only offer food, but medical information and limited screening, a warm place to be and even kinder individuals to staff it”
WhyHunger connects people to nutritious, affordable food while inspiring self-reliance and community empowerment
GNP users say – “This was a great learning experience, I was able to gain a better understanding how WHY connect grassroot groups all over the United States in order to efficiently counter hunger as well as poverty issues”
The Center for Food Action provides emergency food, housing, heating, and utility assistance to low-income people in northern New Jersey.
GNP users say – “I have volunteered at the Center all my life and have only the greatest respect for this charity. Their events are well planned and I especially enjoyed helping out at Christmas which is always well run. The Gala is an event I look forward to all year and am always happy with the party. The Center has found a way to remain relevant in a declining donating world and the work they do is remarkable”
The soup kitchen provides a hot meal to over 1,200 New Yorkers in need every day while counseling staff also work with guests to connect them with benefits, housing and job interviews.
GNP users say – “This soup kitchen feeds the hungry day in day out year after year–feeds them body and soul, including drumming circles and a writing workshop. It is a place where those who happen to need a square meal are treated with respect for their dignity and with authentic compassion”
The Ministry helps individuals and families throughout the East End community, helping people through some of the most difficult times they’ll ever experience. GNP users say – “I find it truly rewarding to be able to volunteer and get to know the people that I help when I volunteer 3 days a week. I volunteer with a dedicated group of people that thoroughly enjoy providing 2 meals per day to our homebound Meals on Wheels clients, a hot lunch for our Soup Kitchen patrons and emergency groceries for our Food Pantry guest.”
SoupMobile is a non-profit mobile soup kitchen dedicated to feeding the homeless in the Dallas area.
GNP users say – “The SoupMobile is the most rewarding volunteering I have ever done. The best part is being right there with the homeless to hug them, talk with them, and just simply love them. I have learned so much by serving the homeless. Their boundless faith leaves me humbled. I am so grateful to David Timothy, a.k.a. SoupMan, for this amazing opportunity”
The Food Bank of Central New York is a not-for-profit organization working to eliminate hunger through food distribution, education and advocacy in cooperation with the community.
GNP users say – “The Food Bank of Central New York is an incredible place. They took the idea of a food bank and made it so much more – not just handing out bags of food to local families in need (although they still do that, too). They coordinate large donations from local stores and businesses. They ship food to hundreds of food pantries, food banks, soup kitchens, shelters, senior centers, and emergency organizations throughout New York State. They have educational programs that teach people about nutrition, growing their own food, and give them the seeds and materials they need to keep going.”
The Trenton Area Soup Kitchen (TASK) responds to the needs of hungry people in the Trenton area by providing meals to all those who are hungry, providing services to encourage self-sufficiency and improve quality of life, informing the wider community of the needs of the hungry and advocating for resources to meet these needs.
GNP users say - “I first became involved with TASK three years ago and have supported them throughout the years with food and clothing donations and have adopted families for the Christmas holidays. TASK is a wonderful organization. The people that work there, whether it be in the kitchen serving food, the social workers, or the Adult Education volunteers are all extremely dedicated and caring individuals.”
Nicholas Kristof gets an A for his picks of great charities! Despite the Three Cups of Tea controversy, he has chosen effective nonprofits according to reviews by volunteers, donors, and clients served. His final grade? A 91% success rate.
Kristof is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the New York Times. His writing focuses on the disenfranchised and abused, like victims of human trafficking, and what we can do to help them. He has traveled to 150 countries, often risking his life to report from dangerous places like Darfur.
We wanted to evaluate Kristof’s picks of nonprofits that readers should support. We took a look at some of Nick’s picks and compared them with reviewer’s ratings on GreatNonprofits.org. Kristof’s pick was judged as good if reviewers gave it an average rating of at least four stars out of five on our site — a requirement every nonprofit met except for the infamous Central Asia Institute. Kristof ended up with a 91% success rate. Congratulations to Mr. Kristof for all he has done to spread awareness and help people who need it most. We feel confident that most nonprofits Mr. Kristof recommends are outstanding organizations. Below are some choice reviews of Kristof’s picks from GreatNonprofits.org:
Nick says: “It invests money in for-profit businesses — like WaterHealth International, whose business model is to provide clean drinking water where none is available.”
GreatNonprofits users say: “I am an African that beleives in teaching people to fish not giving them fish. The investments Acumen make in entrepreneurs in developing countries encourages both a return on investment in cash terms and a huge return on investment in human terms” Read More
Nick says: “It is led by Sakena Yacoobi, a force of nature who was educated in the United States, and it now serves 350,000 Afghan women and children annually… Yacoobi runs education programs, training centers and clinics, emphasizing local buy-in and self-reliance.”
GreatNonprofits users say: “I was very impressed by their grassroots, community-based approach to providing education, training and health services to Afghans, particularly to women and children. AIL actually listened to the Afghans they were working with and provided services that they requested and, in turn, asked for input from the people.” Read More
Nick Says: “A Bangladeshi antipoverty organization… it emphasizes organizing village women and promoting education, health and microfinance.”
GreatNonprofits users say: “Seeing a woman proudly display the hair dryer for her salon business in Uganda that a BRAC loan enabled her to buy, watching families gather on poultry vaccination day in Liberia… seeing a women proudly showing her rice plot which demonstrated the in-line planting method for rice all gave me a clearer picture of the good work BRAC does. The scale and breadth of their programs is truly stunning. They start small, think big and scale up. They fix what doesn’t work and stop what can’t work.” Read More
Billionaire Larry Ellison, co-founder and CEO of Oracle, has been busy competing to own the biggest island with fellow billionaires Marc Benioff and Sir Richard Branson. But while he may be fabulous at island shopping, he’s not keeping up with them when it comes to another area: philanthropy. As we recently wrote, in addition to his beachfront mansions and jets, Ellison does have his own foundation. But in 2010, while the executive director of Ellison’s foundation was paid nearly a quarter of a million dollars in salary, the foundation only spent about $300,000 on charitable giving. That’s .00083 percent of Ellison’s estimated net worth. Even given this, Ellison still ends up on lists highlighting the most charitable CEOs in the US. Unless Ellison is a closet philanthropist, he’s losing the billionaire giving competition. But we haven’t lost faith in Ellison, maybe he just needs some suggestions on who to give to.
Larry Ellison speaks, but presumably not about philanthropy.
Larry Ellison could use some lessons in philanthropy. The co-founder and CEO of Oracle and third-richest American (and sixth richest person in the world) according to Forbes, has recently made headlines for his purchase of 98% of the Hawaiian island of Lanai. It reportedly cost him between $500 and $600 million. So why exactly would Ellison purchase this sleepy island, with no traffic lights and a strong commitment to native Hawaiian culture and traditions? Rumor has it Ellison bought Lanai to trump his arch rivals, Sir Richard Branson and Marc Benioff. Ellison however, is dead last behind those rivals in terms of philanthropy. Only $300,000 from his foundation went to charities in 2010. That’s only .00083 percent of Ellison’s estimated $36 billion
With Lilo’s latest legal trouble; a car accident on Malibu’s Pacific Coast Highway in a rented Porsche, and reports of partying in Hollywood into the wee hours just after checking in to the hospital, we’re thinking of ways the fallen star could slow down and give back. (Or at least get some of her court-ordered community service hours out of the way!)
This nonprofit helps give homeless children confidence by providing them with new clothes and shoes for the first day of school. Having previously come out with her own clothing line, this is right up Lohan’s alley. And although she recently had a wardrobe malfunction on the set of her latest project, “Liz and Dick,” she should be able to handle picking out clothes for children despite not being able to keep them on herself. And if she is found to have violated the terms of her probation from a 2007 DUI conviction, she won’t be needing her own closet full of clothes anyway—what with her wardrobe consisting of purely orange jumpsuits.
Lindsay could use some slow and steady driving practice. Neighbor Ride, an organization helping seniors with transportation, could be just what Lilo needs. Lohan would be limited to a 900 square mile-area in Maryland, without having to wear an ankle bracelet.
3. Donning some Gloves for a Beach Cleanup
As we mentioned before, Lohan recently crashed her rented car (into an 18-wheeler) in broad daylight in Malibu. Now according to her eHarmony profile featured on Funny or Die, in addition to car chases on the Pacific Coast Highway, Lohan loves long walks on the beach. And alcohol. What better way to give back than pick up pieces of her front bumper while drunkenly stumbling down the shore. Sure she just totaled an $80,000 Porsche…cheers!
4. Donating hair (er…extensions) to a Cancer Charity
Unless her hair is too damaged from her switch from red to blonde to black back to red, Lohan has plenty she could donate to a charity that helps cancer patients get wigs . Just like formerly-troubled pop star Britney Spears did back in 2007 when she hit a rough patch, Lohan could possibly find the whole cutting-off-all-your-hair thing therapeutic. This could really do wonders for reinventing herself, as well as the child receiving her hair, since Lohan’s hair could really bring joy to the life of any young “Parent Trap” or “Mean Girls” fan. I mean, a lot of people wish they had someone else’s hair, but who actually gets to wear their favorite movie star’s hair?
5. Putting on a Tool Belt for Habitat for Humanity
Lastly, in case Lilo can’t get her acting career back on track, volunteer work building houses with Habitat for Humanity can prep her for a new career in construction. She’s already an expert in getting hammered. However, Habitat builds homes all over the world and, given Lohan’s history of drug abuse, it may be best that she not build in countries with a major drug trade.
What would you have Lindsay do? Do you think it’s important for stars to give back?
Is SPCA International going to the dogs? Because the money apparently isn’t. CNN exposed today that while the charity raised $14 million in 2010, only about $60,000 went to local shelters and only about 3% of the $14 million went to a questionable program called “Baghdad Pups,” designed to safely transport home dogs that are used in service by the military.
According to CNN, SPCA’s own communications director admits that only 26 out of almost 500 animals transported were actually service animals, such as bomb-sniffing dogs. Apparently, these 26 dogs were also not affiliated with the military, but were in fact owned by a contractor building roads in Iraq and Afghanistan. The contractor insists that the dogs had been offered homes, SPCA insists otherwise. A representative of the program has previously been investigated by the state of California for questionable spending at another nonprofit specializing in homeless dogs.
SPCA International has no reviews on GreatNonprofits.org, however, many other local and national animal organizations are highly recommended on our site, where you can browse and review top-rated animal nonprofits. Similar concerns were voiced by reviewers of the ASPCA. We urge you to read through reviews of an organization before you select one to volunteer at or donate to. Many of these organizations devote their time and resources to helping homeless dogs in innovative ways.
We would love to hear your comments about how to best help homeless dogs.