Follow the money: How much actually goes to charity?

Somehow over the last few generations, our society has morphed in much the same way the video world’s animated creatures go from nice, law-abiding, every-day-looking citizens … to something else — an antithesis of the goodness within.

No longer is it the mild-mannered Clark Kent of Smallville; it is a changed creature who’d mug grandma for her wedding ring, grab a fistful of dollars from a shivering Salvation Army bell ringer on Christmas Eve, or rip off a kindergartner’s piggy bank.

The morality of thievery has hit an all time low.

Tragedies routinely bring out the very best in people. Be it a tsunami, a devastating earthquake, a neighborhood-claiming super storm or an act of individual human savagery, the reaction of onlookers is to dig into their pockets and their hearts and help in any way that they can.

Strangers pay for medical bills, food, transportation, clothing, clean-up and even, in the saddest of cases, burials. Others donate their time — to rebuild demolished homes or demolished spirits.

Tragedies also, so sadly, bring out the very worst in people. As an entire nation mourned the senseless deaths of Newtown Connecticut children, victims of the Typhoon in the Philippines, those gunned down in Littleton, Colo., victims of earthquakes, tsunamis, the World Trade Center and so much more, charity fraud takes root among the ashes. Often within mere hours the websites start popping up.

Do-gooders (or greed mongers — it’s nearly impossible to tell the difference by sight) stand on cement islands near busy traffic intersections collecting “donations,” and the telephone brigades hit the call lists. Heartstrings are pulled, pockets are emptied and purses are dumped upside down.

Making a buck is not subject to rules of decency in the eyes of those who perpetrate such schemes. Nope, they spend their time (usually via the Internet) setting up bogus websites and soliciting donations by pulling on the heartstrings of America and the rest of the world.

They are out there. Their personal pockets await. They lie, they cheat, they steal.

If you feel the need to donate cash, direct your gifts to only known charities with open and honorable records of disbursing such gifts. The truth is in the ratios — of every donated dollar, what percentage goes to the victims and what percentage goes to the various “administrative expenses?”

If you really want your eyes opened, follow the money. What amount of salary is the CEO of the so called charity taking home each week?

What is spent in gifts, trips, lobbying and other endeavors that do nothing, even indirectly, for the people, the property and the rebuilding of damages suffered?

The most well-intended good deeds can be fouled by failing to do the necessary homework.

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