December 5, 2012
I have been donating to charities for most of my adult life. Not life changing amounts, but a good support level. I have donated to the strong kids campaign for many recent years, but I found out this year some disturbing information. I guess I never looked at it this way before, but this campaign and how it's run in Omaha seems very fishy. They get general citizens like me to donate to them, so that they can "provide" a membership to someone of less means. On the surface that appears charitable. However, when you look closer, aren't they really just getting more memberships paid by people other than the person using it? This would be the equivalent of a clothing manufacturer saying that they will provide clothes to the needy as long as I pay for them at the full cost. Shouldn't the YMCA be donating something? I know the easy answer is that they are a non profit, but the reality is that their management is very highly paid for this area and nearly 10% of each donation goes right to management expenses, not to mention the extra expenses that are associated with the membership. Shouldn't we be giving to charities that provide basic life needs. Last time I checked, a family membership to a gym was not a basic life need. I admit they had me fooled for a while with the name, but more money is spent on family "scholarships" which are nothing more than memberships than any other program. Check out their 990 for yourself. Oh. That's right, they don't break out this major campaign so you can't follow the breadcrumbs. If it were a good program, they wouldn't be afraid to be transparent about how the money is used.
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MY ROLE:Donor Review from CharityNavigator