People will be targeted for special holiday giving this time of year, but they should never feel “pressured” to donate money according to Thomas Tighe, director of the California-based Direct Relief, an international humanitarian relief organization, as well as an attorney and former Peace Corps volunteer.
First and foremost, says Tighe, don’t give out your credit card information. “When someone calls you at home and wants you to make a donation, asks for your credit card information, it is rarely a good idea,” Tighe warns people. So, don’t give that personal information out to a stranger. “Never feel pressured whatsoever to make a charitable contribution.”
Research before donating
Tighe recommends that people who want to donate money first spend their time doing a little research. Organizations are ranked and rated on the “consumer-friendly” website CharityNavigator, for instance, and Tighe recommends browsing the organizations listed there for the important information collected and listed.
What is Charity Navigator? They describe themselves as being an “evaluator of charities.” According to the mission statement, they are a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization and per rules of the Internal Revenue Code they do not accept “any contributions from any charities we evaluate.” They want to provide people with a guide for more intelligent giving.
Direct Relief, the organization Tighe runs, conducts its humanitarian assistance throughout the United States and globally as well, and they would give priority for areas in poverty or during an emergency. They have done this for 67 years, and in general that is how it goes. Tighe said that, before handing over personal information or any money, ask if the organization has an audited financial statement, and if it does, is it published and available online, so that consumers can view it and have confidence about where their money goes. “At Direct Relief, we also make sure we do not share your personal information,” he said. After you check those ratings websites, Charity Navigator or Better Business Bureau, and you can see how the organizations are rated in more detail, that should provide you with a higher or lower level of confidence on the matter of your personal giving.
“We try very hard and make sure all our information is “transparent and current, ” said Tighe. Further, the information is “updated every hour of every day” on their website, so people can see “exactly where the support for Direct Relief is going on all 50 states and in the 70 countries we work.” (See financial documents here.)
Tighe believes this is also good for the organization. “In one way, Direct Relief benefits because it is under heavy compliance regulations as the only nonprofit that’s licensed to distribute prescription medications in all 50 states ” Tighe believes it is “a high bar” for any organization to clear and for Direct Relief to have done it “for people who don’t pay anything” for the medications was “a real stretch.” The CEO said the regulations did require them to be compliant with the “heavy burden of oversight” because it is prescription drugs being dispensed within the United States. “So I think that has certainly been a good discipline,” he adds, as Direct Relief also works overseas. Maintaining these same standards in control and reporting, is ultimately “good for everybody.”
Clinton Global Initiative work
As an advisor for the Clinton Global Initiative, Tighe says he feels “fortunate” to be a part of former President William Clinton’s “post presidency effort” to continue to work on issues of significance. Tighe said that by “bringing in businesses and having them engage” in some of the relevant issues, Bill Clinton is able to put to good use his “amazing convening powers.”
Unfortunately, the Charity Navigator website on the organization called “Bill Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation” of Little Rock, Arkansas, gives that organization no rating, with an explanation. They state:
“We had previously evaluated this organization, but have since determined that this charity’s atypical business model can not be accurately captured in our current rating methodology. Our removal of The Clinton Foundation from our site is neither a condemnation nor an endorsement of this charity. We reserve the right to reinstate a rating for The Clinton Foundation as soon as we identify a rating methodology that appropriately captures its business model.”
Further on, the ratings website also stated that “[a] lack of a rating does not indicate a positive or negative assessment by Charity Navigator,” but information from other media was also provided for readers. “On February 19, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton ‘was one of the most aggressive global cheerleaders for American companies, pushing governments to sign deals and change policies to the advantage of corporate giants such as General Electric Co., Exxon MobilCorp., Microsoft Corp. and Boeing Co.’ The article goes on to state that ‘at the same time, those companies were among the many that gave to the Clinton family’s global foundation set up by her husband, former President Bill Clinton.’ The article says that ‘at least 60 companies that lobbied the State Department during her tenure donated a total of more than $26 million to the Clinton Foundation, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of public and foundation disclosures.'”
And the Charity Navigator website also quoted from the WSJ article, stating that “corporate donations to politically connected charities aren’t illegal so long as they aren’t in exchange for favors. There is no evidence of that with the Clinton Foundation. […] All of the companies mentioned in this article said their charitable donations had nothing to do with their lobbying agendas with Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.”
In the ten years that the Clinton Global Initiative has been going, Tighe said as an advisor he is able to be involved in some of the “vexing social issues” and the “public spirited” activity, which is actually being done privately by businesses and nonprofits trying to “push things forward.”
Direct Relief gets high ratings
Direct Relief’s overall and financial scores on the ratings website are quite high, however. They have gained a score of 99.94 out of a total possible of 100.00 per the Charity Navigator report. Their “Accountability & Transparency” score is 100.00, the very best it could be.