Does your mailbox get filled to the brim with solicitations for donations this time of year? Many have to do with feeding families and children (locally, nationally, globally) who are impoverished or rescuing neglected pets. Many that I receive are related to the environment. People, animals, the Earth - how does one decide which to save? Some environmental organizations are my favorite causes, but I do have to admit that I’ve wondered if my money is going for what I want it to go towards. And I wonder why some of these groups with similar missions don’t band together to be more effective and save money.
Making the decision can feel overwhelming when you’re bombarded with entreaties. There’s the American Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, The Nature Conservancy, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, National Parks Conservation Association, Earthjustice, Defenders of Wildlife, Audubon Society, Cousteau Society, The Ocean Conservancy, Save the Rain Forests; National Arbor Foundation; Greenpeace; and locally, the San Joaquin River Parkway Conservancy and Trust. One can make donations to Keep America Beautiful or, closer to home, Keep California Beautiful.
It’s important to do your homework before giving. For instance, according to an article in the online news source Mother Jones, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit news organization that does independent investigative reporting, The Center for Whale Research monitors killer whales in the Pacific Northwest whereas the Institute for Cetacean Research is a front group for Japanese whaling interests. The article written by Michael Beckel and Jonathan Stein, “A Guide to Environmental Non-Profits: How to distinguish groups doing good from ones that just sound good” states that the following are anti-environmental groups with deceptive names or mission statements: International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources; Sustainable Use Parliamentarians Union; The Institute of Cetacean Research (mentioned above); and the U.S. House Committee on Resources (yes, a governmental entity).
Some tips before giving:
Conduct research into the organization. Is its mission statement congruent with your values? What percentage of their revenue goes toward administration? Are they listed on Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org) and if so, what’s their score? Who endorses the non-profit and do you trust the endorsers? Have you been pressured to donate? Is your giving something you can comfortably afford without jeopardizing your own survival?
Most of us like to make a difference - to do something positive for our fellow man, for endangered wildlife, homeless or neglected domestic animals, or the environment. Do what you can to make your giving smart, thoughtful and significant.
And don’t forget about KOMB (Keep Our Mountains Beautiful) in your giving. The mission of KOMB is to promote responsible stewardship of the land and resources of Eastern Madera County by promoting a litter-free environment, increasing recycling and improving waste management, and improving and beautifying the local environment. To be a supporting member of KOMB is just $10 annually per individual or $15 per family or business.