Entries in Charity (14)


Year-End Guide to Charitable Giving

Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the end of the year approaches, many Americans are searching for the best organizations to give to.

In 2011, Americans donated $217.79 billion, up 3.9 percent from 2010, according to an annual report on philanthropy from the Giving USA Foundation.

But this year a lukewarm job market might mean only a moderate bump in donations over past years.

“We expect to see perhaps a very modest increase. While the economy has improved, it is far from robust, and the unemployment rate continues at a high level,” said Joanne Reisser, vice president of development at Charity Navigator, a nonprofit group that evaluates charities.

In addition to a slowing job market, Superstorm Sandy hit the East Coast about two months ago, causing an economic loss of $35 billion to $45 billion in the area affected.

The storm, which hit the U.S. in late October, could have an impact on end of the year giving, said one expert.

“Since Hurricane Sandy occurred so close to the end of the year, that may impact December giving,” Reisser told ABC News. “Thirty percent of annual giving occurs in December, with 10 percent given in the last two days to take advantage of tax breaks.  With the likelihood of going over the fiscal cliff looming and the uncertainties inherent therein, people may decide it’s better not to give this year,” she said.

In the run-up to the end of the year, Charity Watch CEO Daniel Borochoff said charitable donations could remain flat but said donations related to Superstorm Sandy weren’t expected to have a huge impact on overall donations, because they only accounted for 1 percent of charitable giving. Consequently, with the threat of cuts to government programs, Borochoff said Americans should consider giving to national and local programs that help the needy. Charity Watch rates charities, helping donors to make informed decisions.

“There’s a lot of needy veterans and a lot of F-rated groups and A-rated groups and people need to be careful,” Borochoff told ABC News.  

And just what earns a charity an F?

“A lot of what the F groups do is they educate you that needy people have needs and don’t do much to help people,” said Borochoff.

Borochoff suggests requesting an organization’s tax forms, financial statements, and if the charity is soliciting donors, take care, because much of a donation could end up going toward paying the solicitor.

Keep in mind that the Internal Revenue Service is not just about tax forms. Anyone wanting to donate should refer to the IRS for tips on year-end gift-giving, including guidelines on what qualifies as a charitable donation.

Here’s a look at the Top Seven Charities that made the top 100 list compiled by the Chronicle of Philanthropy for 2012:

•    United Way

•    Fidelity Charity

•    Salvation Army

•    Catholic Charities U.S.A.

•    Task Force for Global Health

•    Feeding America

•    American National Red Cross

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Charities Fight Consumerism with Giving Tuesday

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There's Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and now charities are starting what they hope will become a national day for giving that will join the holiday lexicon: Giving Tuesday.

As of Friday, #GivingTuesday had 2,065 partners listed on the movement's website, including corporations, nonprofits, schools and religious groups.

The idea for the campaign sprung from the 92nd Street YMCA deputy executive director Henry Timms and Kathy Calvin, CEO of United Nations Foundation.  Timms began thinking about the concept during the holidays last year, and the idea gained momentum this past spring.

"When 92Y's Henry Timms called he explained the opportunity this way, 'We have a day for giving thanks, two days for getting deals.  Why shouldn't there be a day for giving back?'" Calvin said.

She said the UN Foundation loved the idea.

"There are so many creative ways that people can volunteer and donate in today's world of social media," Calvin said.  "A national day of giving back around the holiday shopping season just makes sense.  It helps people everywhere make the most of their philanthropic side."

The organizers, including public relations firm Fenton Communications, are asking partners who have the capability of collecting data to report how much they raise on Tuesday, how many people volunteered at an event, or other relevant information.  They hope to report those figures on Wednesday.

But will Giving Tuesday catch on, especially in light of the expected increase in retail holiday sales?

Devin Hermanson, senior marketing director of relief organization World Vision, said he hopes so.

According to a phone survey by Harris Interactive and World Vision, 83 percent of Americans say they would prefer to receive a meaningful gift that would help someone else instead of a traditional gift like clothing or electronics.

However, the percentage of people willing to give a charitable gift as a present has fallen.

Last year, 51 percent of U.S. adults said they would be "more likely" to give a charitable gift as a holiday present.  This year, that percentage dropped to 45 percent.

"Holiday shopping is treated like an Olympic event," Hermanson said.  He hopes the same attention will be paid to Giving Tuesday.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


What You Should Know Before Donating to a Disaster Charity or Paying a Contractor

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Department of Justice has warned of the potential for disaster fraud in the aftermath of superstorm Sandy, which ravaged millions of homes and businesses along the Atlantic Coast, and as of Friday morning, had left more than 3.6 million people in 11 states without power.

Suspected fraudulent activity relating to storm relief efforts should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud's toll-free hot line at 866-720-5721, which is available 24-hours a day, seven-days a week .

Located in Baton Rouge, La., the fraud center was established by the Justice Department in the fall of 2005 following Hurricane Katrina. Its task force has prosecuted 1,439 individuals throughout the country related to Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma, according to the center. Those prosecutions included charity scams, government and private-sector benefit fraud, identity theft, contract and procurement fraud and public corruption.

The Federal Trade Commission has stepped in too with help on how home and business owners who need to hire contractors can avoid scammers.

First, said the FTC, ask for copies of a contractor's general liability and worker's compensation insurance. Homeowners are advised to check the contractor's identification and references.

"Deal with reputable people in your community," the FTC advises.

Next, if a down payment is required, pay only the minimum.

If you suspect a contractor is committing fraud, contact local law enforcement authorities and the Better Business Bureau.

The FTC offers the following tips for donating to charities:

1. Donate only to charities you know and trust.

Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight. Conduct due diligence on a charity. One way is to contact the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance at
2. Ask if the caller is a paid fundraiser.

The FTC advises that consumers ask fundraisers who they work for, and what percentage of a donation goes to the charity and what percentage to the fundraiser. "If you don't get a clear answer, or if you don't like the answer you get, consider donating to a different organization," the FTC states.

3. Do not give out personal or financial information.

Your personal information includes your credit card or bank account number. The FTC says don't give that out unless you know the charity is reputable.

4. Never send cash.

If you give in cash, you won't know for sure if the organization will ever receive your donation, nor will you have a record for tax purposes.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


White Castle Charity Deal Offers 6,912 Burgers, Chefs

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- White Castle is going to throw two big parties for the buyers of their new Crave Pallet.  Burger-lovers who purchase the Pallet for $25,000 get 6,912 White Castle sliders in original, cheese or jalapeno.

With enough burgers to feed 1,000 guests, the sliders will be cooked by a team of White Castle chefs.  The Crave Pallet evolved from the restaurant’s Crave Crate, which includes 100 sliders.

The Crave Pallet also comes with 216 “White Castle steam-grilled-on-a bed-of-onions Nest Fragrance candles,” a statement from the company said.

The net proceeds of the slider pallet benefits autism research.

Those interested in purchasing the burgers can call the Ambassador Goodwill Hotline at 614-559-2687.  Only two are available.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Cabbage Patch Kids Go Presidential with Obamas, Romney, Biden, Ryan Dolls

Cabbage Patch Kids / Jakks Pacific Inc.(NEW YORK) -- Move over Barack Obama action figure, there’s a new presidential toy in town. Instead of bad-guy fighting plastic prowess, this Obama-inspired doll sports a soft suit, graying hair and the rounded baby face that can only come from the Cabbage Patch.

The Obama Cabbage Patch Kid, along with the similarly suited and smiling likenesses of Vice President Joe Biden and  GOP rivals Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan, will be auctioned off on eBay the week before the election to raise money for charity.

While Cabbage Patch Kids, and its parent company Jakks Pacific Inc., have created presidential election-themed dolls for charity since 2004, this is the first year that a first lady is included in the Cabbage Patch candidate mix.

The Michelle Obama version of a Cabbage Patch Kid is as fashionable as the first lady, sporting a pink dress, thick black belt, cheetah-patterned purple blazer and black peep-toe pumps.

All five election-inspired dolls will be auctioned off on eBay Oct. 30 through Election Day on Nov. 6. But if history is any guide, the highest bidder will likely not be the highest vote-getter.

In the 2008 election, the Sarah Palin doll fetched more than four times the amount that her vice presidential rival Joe Biden’s was sold for, yet the Obama-Biden ticket took the most votes in the election.

Palin’s Cabbage Patch Kid was auctioned for $19,000. Biden’s went for $3,550. All together, the four dolls brought in about $37,000, all of which was donated to the Marine Toys for Tots.

In 2004, Republican incumbent president George W. Bush’s Cabbage Patch likeness sold for about $1,000 and his Democratic rival Sen. John Kerry’s doll was bought for $1,200. Those proceeds benefited the American Red Cross.

This year’s auction will benefit Rock the Vote. The presidential election dolls join the likes of celebrity talk show host Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah, who are also represented in the cabbage patch.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Five Most Generous States for Charities Mostly Lean Republican

ABC News/Ma'ayan Rosenzweig(NEW YORK) -- Which states are more generous about giving money to charities?  Red or blue states?  A report by The Chronicle of Philanthropy, "How America Gives," uses the most recent available IRS data from 2008 to find out.

The answer, according to the report, is that people in Republican-leaning states give somewhat more, mostly because of religious ties.  The Chronicle studied individual tax returns and studied demographic characteristics such as religion and political affiliation.  The report found that states that were in favor of the 2008 presidential candidate John McCain gave higher percentages of discretionary income toward charities.

The state of Utah, where a majority of residents are Mormon and encouraged to give 10 percent of their income to the church, had the highest percentage -- 10.6 percent.  Residents in Utah had an estimated median discretionary income of $49,551.

The state of Utah shows how important religion is to giving, said Peter Panepento, the Chronicle of Philanthropy's assistant managing editor.  In Utah, the estimated median contribution was $5,255, as reported to the IRS on itemized tax returns.

The District of Columbia followed Utah, with people there giving an average of 7.7 percent of their salaries to charity.  The district, the only ranking in the top five that swung Democrat in the last presidential election, has an estimated median discretionary income of $39,045.

After religion, diversity, especially in an urban area such as the District of Columbia, is a major factor affecting philanthropy.  In other words, where and with whom someone lives affects his or her giving habits, Panepento said.

People who made over $200,000 a year and lived in wealthier ZIP codes gave in lower numbers than those in more economically diverse ZIP codes, the Chronicle found.

Mississippi, a Bible-belt state, ranked third in philanthropic giving, another example of the relationship between giving and religion.  The state had an estimated median contribution of $3,998 with a giving percentage of 7.2 percent of income.  The estimated median discretionary income was $55,264.

The state of Alabama ranked fourth with a giving percentage of 7.1 percent and an estimated median giving contribution of $4,007.  The estimated median income for residents is $56,493.

Also in the Bible belt, Alabama has strong religious ties that encourage people to give more of their income to the church and charitable causes.

The state of Tennessee ranked fifth, with a giving rate of 6.6 percent and a median contribution of $3,807.  The median discretionary income is $58,097.

A number of religious denominations are headquartered in Tennessee, including the Southern Baptist Convention and the National Baptist Convention.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Eyewear Designer Warby Parker Gives Sight to World's Poor

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Warby Parker may be known for its designer eyewear, but co-founder Neil Blumenthal said the original motivation for the company came far from any fashion runways.

There are over 500 million people who could have their vision restored with a pair of glasses, so Blumenthal, along with his business school friend David Gilboa, set out to perfect pupils around the world.

"It didn't quite make sense to us that glasses cost as much as an iPhone," Blumenthal said. "And could we produce the same quality glasses for a fraction of the price?"

The duo, along with two other business school buddies, launched Warby Parker and ended up blowing the whistle on high mark-ups at other optical shops.

"An optical shop often is marking up glasses three to five times what they're paying for wholesale," Blumenthal said.

While most companies charge at least $300 a pair, Warby Parker charges $95 for new glasses. Blumenthal said they "bypass the middle man" to keep prices down.

"When we're looking at this industry, we found that it was controlled by a few, very large companies," he said. "And we could literally provide all that margin that was going to these big companies to normal people."

And they didn't stop there -- for every pair a customer buys, another pair goes to a person in need. When they took a trip to India, Blumenthal said they talked with two farmers who told how they had lost an entire crop because they couldn't see the insects eating their plants, yet they had the proper pesticides on their land. Their poor vision devastated their income for several months.

"It's just amazing what a simple pair of glasses can do," he said. "Just a pair of glasses alone can increase someone's income by 20 percent."

Blumenthal had spent time working for Vision Spring, a nonprofit organization that trains people in developing countries, where eyeglasses are a luxury, on how to perform eye exams and make lenses.

"I spent five years pioneering this model to train low-income women to start their own businesses actually selling glasses in their communities, even if it was for a few dollars," he said.

From India to Guatemala, these locally-trained entrepreneurs can be seen on mobile units, providing eye exams and glasses door to door.

Blumenthal and Galba realized something else -- that people want to look good too.

"Fashion differs from community to community and fashion is king," Blumenthal said. "You could be the poorest person on Earth, but you still care about how you look."

Warby Parker also designs frames according to local trends.

"In places like India and Bangladesh, people love gold-wired frames," Blumenthal said. "Probably couldn't sell those in SoHo."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kentucky Man Buys Everything at Kmart, Then Donates All to Charity

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A Kentucky businessman showed a heart of gold by buying the entire inventory of a closing K-Mart and donating it to charity.

After turning aside calls from flea markets looking to buy the inventory valued at around $200,000, Rankin Paynter, the owner of a Winchester firm that buys up surplus goods, decided to donate the merchandise to a local charity.

"I told my wife, I can make $30,000 or $40,000 on this deal but let's give it to charity," Paynter told ABC News.

During a visit to the store, the good Samaritan was checking out the display cases and a safe for his jewelry buying business when he learned the store would sell all of the merchandise on the last day of business.  One requirement: You had to be a power buyer.

Paynter had to fill out an application with the company to purchase the goods, which had everything from winter clothes to over-the-counter medicine.  According to Paynter, the day before closing the store called to offer him the whole lot.  But there was one rule.

"They said you can buy it all but you must sign a contract and take everything left in the store," Paynter told ABC News.

And, he did.  On Sunday, May 6, the businessmen stood in line for six and half hours to purchase the inventory that had to be rung up at four different registers the evening the store closed.  It took the 77-year-old two trucks, two vans and six workers to move all the items from the store to storage.  However, Payntner had no clue then what he planned on doing with all the inventory.

During a discussion with his banker, Paynter learned about a charity in the area that could use the goods he purchased.  And, after viewing some of their financial records, the Winchester businessman decided to go with Clark County Community Services, which serves low- and middle-income residents in the area.

The inventory was an early Christmas gift for the organization, which plans on boxing up the winter goods to be distributed later on this year.

"This will be the first time we will have enough coats and gloves for everybody," said Judy Crowe, the director of the non-profit organization.  The organization's Christmas program "Operation Happiness" is one of the largest in the area, serving 1,500 families in one day.

It's a decision that makes Paynter proud.

"It makes me feel good [to give to charity]," he said.  "I come from real poor background.  I'm talking really poor.  I was able to pull myself out and make a lot of money."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Kmart Layaway Shoppers Touched by Cash-Carrying Angel

Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Thinkstock(INDIANAPOLIS) -- A few lucky Kmart shoppers were touched by an “angel” Tuesday.

An anonymous woman made a special trip to the Indianapolis Super Kmart and paid off the outstanding layaway balances of several customers, according to ABC affiliate station WRTV-TV6.

A call to Kmart’s corporate office was not immediately returned.

The “layaway angel,” a widow, went to the West Washington Super Kmart location intent on giving shoppers a happy holiday.

“She said that she had money, and she wanted to make someone’s Christmas. It was like an angel dropped out of the sky,” store manager Edna Deppe told ABC news affiliate WRTV-TV6.

Approaching shoppers, the anonymous woman paid off outstanding layaway balances that were sometimes as high as $800, according to WRTV-TV6.

Angie Torres and her young daughter were surprised at the counter. “I took out my credit card to pay my minimum balance. She said, ‘Don’t pay that. I’m going to pay it for you,’” Torres told  WRTV-TV6.

But it wasn’t just layaway customers who received the woman’s random act of kindness. After paying off outstanding balances at the layaway counter, the anonymous donor walked around the store distributing $50 bills, and even paid the bill of a customer -- for more than $400 worth of toys -- according to WRTV-TV6.

All the “angel” asked was that customers give back in the name of her late husband, according to ABC’s affiliate.

What is clear: “An Angel dropped in our store last night,” Deppe told the station.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Salvation Army Surprise: Gold Bars Dropped Into Collection Kettles

PRNewsFoto/The Salvation Army(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The Salvation Army got a little more than the usual spare change this weekend.

Over the weekend, two gold bars were dropped into Salvation Army collection kettles -- a 10-gram gold bar worth up to $800 and a 5-gram gold bar worth $310 -- in different parts of Kansas City, Mo.

Last year the Salvation Army received an identical 5-gram gold bar worth $300, according to Major Michele Heaver, a Salvation Army spokeswoman.

The grand gestures aren’t limited to gold, however. Two weeks ago, a loose 3/4-carat diamond said to be worth about $2,000 was found in a kettle outside a Walmart in Shawnee, Kan. The appraiser offered to place the stone in a setting so the Salvation Army could auction it off as a ring, but the group has not yet decided what to do with it.

Heaver said her unit has found silver dollars (including one that had never been circulated), tokens for pizza places, a gold wedding band, a dead goldfish and a scrabble piece in their collection kettles.  Those are strange but small objects, able to fit through the small slot in the kettle. How the donor fit the gold bars into the slot is unknown.

The kettle tradition dates back to 1891, when Salvation Army Captain Joseph McFee was looking for a way to fund holiday dinners for the poor. He decided to use a pot to collect money, with a sign that read “Keep the Pot Boiling.”

Today, the Salvation Army helps more than 4.5 million people during the holidays, providing poor families with toys and Christmas food baskets.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio