Tag Archives: Charity

Mishandled Gift

6 Nov

Doesn’t charity begin at home?

Perhaps something should be said about either giving directly to a charity or institution or creating one’s own giving plan.

In 2001, an alumnus gave $30 million dollars to a university to

  • Create four endowed faculty chairs within a college
  • Start a merit scholarship program to provide full tuition and a stipend for 30 students
  • Establish a fund for innovation and excellence within a college
  • Award leadership for one student in each of three classes

Sadly, the university threw the $30 million in with other gifts in order to facilitate collective management.  The value has declined by 28 percent.  The university assessed a fee of 1.33 percent to “manage” the gift; however, a portion of this fee was used to develop further gifts to the university.  Instead of 30 scholarships being awarded annually, the university only gave 12 to 16 scholarships.

With such specific goals in mind, handling this gift outside the university would have

  • Allowed active management of the gift
  • Monitored use of the gift
  • Provided oversight

Charity and trust go hand-in-hand.  A belief exists that the charity or institution will use the gift in a charitable way.  Careful oversight remains necessary to ensure its proper employment.


16 Jul

“A recent survey found that nearly 70% of charities expect to raise more money in 2016 than they did last year” (G. Vargo, personal communication, June 20, 2016).

I continue to be dumbfounded that charities routinely send me:

  • Gardening gloves
  • Address labels
  • Wrapping paper
  • Calendars
  • Day planners
  • Pens
  • T-Shirts
  • Greeting cards
  • Stickers
  • Gift labels
  • Holiday cards
  • Socks


I do appreciate the gifts since all of these things were unsolicited and arrived through the U.S. Mail, but why do you do this?  Aren’t there better ways to invest charitable contributions?

However, charities do have an interesting marketing strategy.  About a month after receiving my “gift,” I receive what appears to be an invoice for the item.  Why?


I once had an elderly client who was considering bankruptcy.  We worked through her monthly expenses.  We got through the regular expenses (food, shelter, utilities, etc.) without difficulty.  When asked about any other monthly expenses, the client produced a stack of “invoices” from charities and indicated that roughly two hundred dollars a month went to pay these bills.  We were able to avoid a bankruptcy with a little financial counseling.

Is this ethical?