Be Charitable But Also Be Careful

MacKenzie Scott has achieved what no other philanthropist has. With no massive Gates Foundation-like staff to assist her she sought out some of the neediest charitable groups in the nation and donated nearly $6 billion to them.

Six billion dollars. Think of that.

Think of how much good can be achieved by the beneficiaries: food banks, social service programs, civil rights groups, colleges and universities. The United Way, Goodwill, Easter Seals, the N.A.A.C.P. and YWCA organizations were also among those receiving Scott’s surprise donations.

Where did Scott get so much money?  After 25 year of marriage to billionaire Jeff Bezos the couple divorced and she received more than $38 billion in shares of Amazon stock, a company she helped her husband create. Scott has vowed to give away half her fortune which has now grown to more than $60 billion.

It’s highly unlikely anyone reading this will ever have that kind of money, but it doesn’t mean we can’t be charitable. And, in fact, we have been. Even in this exhausting and confounding Year of the Pandemic Americans continue to prove they are a giving people.

Charity Equals Love For Your Fellow Citizen

The Philanthropy News Digest reports that charitable giving trends for 2020 are on track to beat 2019 donations. For example, statistics from 2,500 nonprofits from around the country show charitable giving increased 12 percent in the second quarter of this year. Americans who donated less than $250 jumped more than 19 percent. Those who gave $1,000 or more jumped almost 6.5 %.

Proof positive that following the Covid-19 emergency declaration in March many of us did not simply hunker down and forget about the outside world. Lots of citizens headed for their checkbooks to help those in need.

Today our mailboxes and email accounts are filled with end-of-the-year pleas from all sorts of charities designed to pull at your heartstrings and add to your tax deductions before the New Year. But remember, tis also the season for scams. Catastrophic events, like a worldwide pandemic, tend to bring out the most creative criminal minds intent on separating you from your money.

The FBI warns that if an organization is asking you donate with cash, a gift card or by wire transfer it is probably a scam. Its suggested you only donate by traceable credit card or checks.  The bureau also preaches “good cyber hygiene” and advises to always check a charity’s website address closely. Most legit organizations have at the end of their e-address .org not .com. And never click on links or open email attachments from unfamiliar groups asking for money. That could immediately infect your computer.

Donate With Your Eyes Wide Open

The Federal Trade Commission urges citizens to do a quick bit of research before donating money. Scammers often make up names that sound like the names of genuine charities. (The words “children,” “veteran” or “wounded warrior” are frequently misappropriated.) So, the FTC suggests a simple web search of the group’s name plus the words “complaint,” “rating” or “scam.” Also, keep a record of your donation and make sure you were only charged the amount you intended rather than a recurring donation. 

To be extra careful refer to charity watchdog groups like Charity Navigator or CharityWatch. Both of these non-profit organizations have an easy search function where potential donors can insert a charity’s name and see how efficiently and effectively they spend their donations. Charity Navigator, for example, recommends that only 25% of a charity’s funds be spent on administrative costs. Seventy-five percent should go toward the group’s stated mission.

A recently revealed case in point: after the explosion of the #MeToo movement a group of Hollywood producers and celebrities established the Time’s Up organization in 2018. It was designed to fight sexual harassment and provide a legal defense fund to help victims seek justice. But, according to its own tax filings, Time’s Up spent 38 percent on staff salaries and hundreds of thousands more on fancy conferences, advertising, public relations, travel and other non-mission activities.

It should be noted that Charity Navigator has not rated Times Up or its lobbying arm, Times Up Now. The CharityWatch site links to a scathing Hollywood Reporter article about the financial excesses of the outside “ambassador” consultants it recommends.

Bottom line: be charitable but be careful.  




  1. Diane Dimond on December 28, 2020 at 9:25 am

    Sandra Kelly writes:


    MacKenzie Scott’s behavior is a shock.

    Let me sit down. She “said” she’d donate lots of money to needy causes a while back & was lauded.

    Now, she’s actually Doing it.

    NOT donating to heist public elections, mind you. Donating huge amounts of much-needed cash to legitimate, non-political, social-support charities.

    Wow. God Bless America & the genuine patriot citizens there in- who are humble, grateful & generous of spirit.

  2. Diane Dimond on December 28, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Karen Finkenbinder writes:

    It should be 10% in overhead, not 25%. Consider mot giving to any charity where the Leader is paid more than $200K. That pretty much leaves the Salvation Army. Red Cross, Public TV/Radio, Boy Scouts, NRA, etc. – salaries are ridiculous. Do it as a calling (expect to get paid less). If you are in it for the money – not a charity. Bah Humbug.

  3. Diane Dimond on December 28, 2020 at 9:26 am

    Press on. . .writes:

    Bravo for this article. Thank you Diane Dimond. Charity should go directly to people not organizations or foundations and the like. Get it. Do some real good. Do it. All else is pure horse manure.

  4. Diane Dimond on December 28, 2020 at 9:27 am

    mlibner writes:

    She lost me at civil rights groups, colleges and the naacp. Those aren’t charities but at least she is trying.

  5. Diane Dimond on December 28, 2020 at 9:27 am

    Troy Teno writes:

    Agreed. Do not give your life, liberty, or your pursuit of happiness away to Leftist idiots. This should be one of Jordan’s next 12 rules!

    Remember whatever a leftist tells you, DO THE OPPISIT, and you’ll be OKAY.

    We are planning to help Church and family members who are affected by health and financial issues, with our Covid relief money. We know where our money is needed, and we know how it will be spent. This seems far more effective for folks like us, of modest means, than to send our money away.

  6. Diane Dimond on December 28, 2020 at 9:29 am

    jmjacob writes:

    This is why we need to fight. So many I know wand Govt to be the arm of charity so they do not need to get involved. Charity is much more than $$. A few hours of time can go a long way to help so many. This is who Americans are! We are not that character developed in NYT and showcased on CNN. That is a destructive minority but sadly taking over bit by bit.

  7. Diane Dimond on December 28, 2020 at 9:30 am

    FormerSonambulist writes:

    McKenzie Scott is the exception to the rule wherein the more people gain the less human they tend to become.

    I cannot recommend Charity Navigator and Charity Watch enough. While I know my chosen charities very personally, my mother would donate to many but never until she’d consulted one of the two and if a charity wasn’t there? Forget it, not worthy.

  8. Diane Dimond on December 28, 2020 at 9:32 am

    NotYourRegularConservative writes:

    There are many ways to assist others. Money, items, services, et al. My husband and I have been doing anonymous random acts of kindness for 20 yrs wherever we lived and for whoever was needy, we happened to come across at times. Put a smile on someone else’s face today!

  9. Diane Dimond on December 30, 2020 at 10:58 am

    Brian Deets writes:

    This Is an Entrepreneur. She sees contribution to the community as an investment in our future. No strings assistance. Added to that encouraging people to try harder by recognizing their sweat equity. Her former husband would be a hero if he had even done 10 percent of what she is doing. But, He had to be a Jerk

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