Archive for the ‘Charity’ Category
In 2008, I wrote about the Macular Degeneration Association (MDA), a questionable charity whose actual mission seemed to be more about lining the pockets of its founder and his cronies than about supporting macular degeneration research or people suffering with the disease.
The charity doesn’t look any better now than it did then. Here’s an update…
I periodically post about organizations which can’t handle one of these two simple requests: (1) don’t spam me; (2) don’t send me junk mail. If an organization is incapable of implementing effective policies and procedures to accommodate these two straightforward requests from donors, they are probably also incapable of implementing effective, efficient policies and procedures for doing the work for which donors are sending them money.
I’ve had run-ins of varying magnitude about this with numerous organizations over the years. The ones that I post about here are the worst of the worst. They have either overtly refused to accommodate my requests, or claimed repeatedly, but falsely, that they had done so.
Today, I am forced to add Yad Sarah to this disreputable bunch. I am sorry to do this, because the work Yad Sarah claims to do is important, and because they appear to be respected by other organizations which I respect and tend to trust. However, after my experience with them, I must wonder how efficiently and effectively they use the money entrusted to them by donors to perform their mission.
My wife and I have supported literally hundreds of charitable organizations over the years. I donate on-line whenever possible, which means that many of these organizations have my email address. The vast majority of them are smart and reputable enough not to send me bulk email I didn’t agree to receive, or at worst to unsubscribe me from their bulk mailings when I ask them to do so.
Alas, there are a few organizations whose bulk email practices are so disreputable, so shameful, so entirely unacceptable, that when all else fails, my only remaining recourse is to attempt to shame them into cleaning up their act, and to urge others not to support them financially until they’ve done so.
Today, I am forced to condemn the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) to the charity spammers’ hall of shame.
In a letter to the editor in the September 21 edition of the Boston Herald, one Christine Giroux wrote:
At the core of the health care controversy is the question of whether health care is a basic right held by every American citizen… We all need food, clothing and shelter. Are these basic rights too? … The truth is that these things are not rights and neither is health care.
I found her letter so astoundingly offensive that I had to write a response. Unfortunately, the Herald printed neither my response nor any other objecting to Giroux’s assertion that food, clothing and shelter are not basic rights. Perhaps this is because they felt the issue had already played itself out, or perhaps it’s because they agree with Giroux, or perhaps it’s because they didn’t think my letter was controversial enough, or perhaps they think they’ve printed too many letters from me recently :-). In any case, here’s what I wrote:
To the editor:
Attempting to contrast with the right to health care, Christine Giroux asks, “We all need food, clothing and shelter. Are these basic rights too?”
According to the millennia-old traditions and ethical code observed by me and my fellow Jews, the answer is clear and unequivocal: yes, of course they are!
Supporting the poor is not merely something to do if one feels like it. It is an obligation placed both on individuals and on the community (i.e., the government). Not only is it a good deed to support the poor; it is a grave sin against man and God to do otherwise.
While I would not presume to speak for other religions, I find it difficult to understand how many who deny these basic rights profess to follow a religion whose holy texts teach, “Let the man with two tunics share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise,” and, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor.”
American culture encourages the mistaken beliefs that poverty can be eliminated and that the poor are responsible for their own condition. While that may be true for some, the truth is that there will always be people who need the help of others, and help them we must.
Operation Smile started spamming me in 2004 after I donated to them on-line and gave them my email address so they could send me a receipt.
They have sent me spam on November 5, 2004; December 22, 2004; January 11, 2005; December 7, 2005; December 20, 2005; March 8, 2006; May 11, 2006; May 28, 2007; and November 4, 2008.
I have complained to them about the spam on November 7, 2004; January 9, 2005; December 8, 2005; May 28, 2007, and November 4, 2008. The one and only response I received was on January 11, 2005, when they apologized and claimed (falsely) that the spam would stop.
The American Institute Philanthropy gives Operation Smile a grade of rating of “D” (on an ABCDF scale). In contrast, Smile Train, another charity which does similar work, gets a “B-” grade.
Because of their poor grade and their penchant for spamming, I strongly discourage people from providing any support, financial or otherwise, to Operation Smile.
As I’ve written previously, I’ve been trying for almost a year to eliminate junk mail from my mailbox.
The main strategy I use for this is, quite simply, to ask the organizations that send me junk mail to stop, and to escalate my request when it goes unheeded. In extreme cases, where the escalation is also ignored, I complain to the Better Business Bureau.
This pretty much always works. I have never encountered an organization which has ignored all of my requests and even the BBB complaint. Until now, that is.