If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

Look for our new bloggers this month. Debra Sennefelder will blog on 1/15, and Debra Goldstein debuts on 1/22. Please welcome our double Debs to WWK.

Don't miss our January author interviews: 1/10-Lawrence H. Levy, 1/17-Kaye George, 1/24-Janet Bolin, 1/31-Kathy Aarons. And E. B. Davis will interview Shari Randall on Monday 1/29 about the publication of her first novel, Curses, Boiled Again. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.

Our January Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 1/6-Becky Clark, Pat Hale, Leslie Karst, Edith Maxwell, Shawn McGuire, C. Perkins, and Sue Star, and 1/13-Polly Iyer. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 1/20, and Kait Carson on 1/27.

Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.

In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.


Friday, May 29, 2015


Where Does Charity Start? 

I recently heard on the news that a family has been accused of using funds raised by charities as their personal piggy banks.  It is alleged that The Cancer Fund of America, The Breast Cancer Society and Children’s Fund of America gave an estimated 3% of public donations to people with cancer.
In the interest of full disclosure, I have given money to these “charities.”  The people involved are, of course, innocent until proven guilty, except for those family members who have admitted their guilt as part of their plea agreements.

Some years ago I was persuaded to stop contributing to those charities after I read a report that the charities were under investigation.  I learned of that report from a group called Charity Navigator. 

They describe themselves as America’s leading independent charity evaluator.  The organization evaluates public charities granted tax-exempt status by the IRS.  That excludes many religious organizations like the Salvation Army and private foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  The organization limits itself to charities with more than $500,000 annually raised by donations and total revenues greater than $1,000,000 for one year.  That still covers most major charities.

The evaluation they conduct is based on three factors: Financial Health, Accountability and Transparency, and Results Reporting. Details about each category are available on the site. 
No charitable organization is charged for a rating.  The organization depends entirely on private donations.  In the interest of full disclosure, I have donated to them.  I find their ratings helpful and interesting.  You can request results on an individual charity or investigate an area of focus like protecting the environment or providing day care in Cincinnati. 

Charity Navigator provides ways to respond to crises around the world.

My sister, Tina, told me about the organization.  Like most people, I don’t have the time or expertise to evaluate charities.  The watchdog organizations have been stretched to the breaking points and, even if fully staffed and funded, they could never keep up with all the varieties of human greed. 
I find Charity Navigator helpful.  You might try it too.


James Montgomery Jackson said...

Yep, I have used them for years. When my father died and I helped take over my mother’s finances, we used their resources to go through all her charitable contributions to determine which still made sense.

~ Jim

Grace Topping said...

Thank you of this very helpful information. So many times we blindly give money to charities that sound like they support the charitable works that we want to help. Sadly, that isn't always the case. Often I contributed to charities that called my home, the Breast Cancer Society being among them. Since getting caller ID on our phone, we are able to avoid these calls. We only answer calls that either identify the caller, or we recognize the number. No more pressure from insistent callers from charities. And for those charities that we are interested in supporting, we can now check Charity Navigator.

E. B. Davis said...

Thanks so much for the site address, Warren. We screen our calls now hoping to eliminate having to talk to promoters. One time, we received a call from an adjacent county's police organization. I told them we lived in a different county, and they protested, saying we did not! I found out they were not the police, but promoters working out of LA, CA. Our phone exchange was grouped with Fairfax County's even though we live in Loudoun County, VA. I hate phone solicitation, but then I guess everyone does, which is why reading your blog is to everyone's benefit.

Warren Bull said...

It's no surprise, Jim, that you are ahead of me. Grace and EB, you're welcome. Thanks to my sister who told me about Charity Navigator.

Ramona said...

I am also familiar with Charity Navigator. It's a shame such a thing is necessary, but it is.

Where does charity begin? That is a good question. Someone I know stopped donating to organizations and, each Christmas season, rather than write a big check for a tax break or to an organized charity, she writes a couple of checks to families she knows who are in financial straits. There's no tax credit, but it's direct help to people in need. It's something to think about.

Carla Damron said...

I count on Charity Navigator. We really need to get the message out there. Some of the worst charities have the most heart-wrenching commercials and celebrity endorsements. "Just 19 dollars a month will change a life ..." if you don't mind only 50 cents going to services!

Alice Duncan said...

Thank you very much for this link!

Sandy Cody said...

I had never heard of Charity Navigator, but will check them out. Thanks.

KB Inglee said...

Charity Navigator is new to me but I long ago stopped giving my $$ to organizations I didn't know personally. I am pretty sure my money goes to support the things I think I am paying for.
I don't have a lot of money and I want it to do the most good.

Shari Randall said...

It takes a certain kind of villain to bilk people who are trying to help others. I hope the people running those fake "charities" are in very hot water.

Kara Cerise said...

Thank you for the link, Warren. I hadn't heard of Charity Navigator and I want to make sure that my donations are doing the most good.

Gloria Alden said...

Thanks for the info, Warren. I think I'm on the list of every charity out there, something that happens to those of us of a certain age, I think. I hate the charities that send their pleas with the envelopes stating in large red capital letters "Final Notice." Of course, it isn't. My friend's elderly mother fell for that and contributed to every plea for money that came into her mail box, until my friend, had her move in with her and could monitor what she was giving to. The only large organization I give to now is Doctors without Borders. I've been giving to Audubon, however now that I'm getting mail for donations to them at least twice a month, I think I'm going to stop. To me it's a waste of money to be sending all that mail with address labels, etc. I do give to local charities that have a good reputation. I never ever contribute to anyone calling on the phone. I'm going to save that link, Warren, in case I want to donate to what looks like a worthy cause that I'm not sure of.

KM Rockwood said...

This is really nothing new. I remember, way back in the '50's, collecting money to "save pagan babies." What exactly that meant, or where the money went, I have no idea. I think it just never occurred to us, as children who believed everything adults told us, to ask.

I tend to be with Ramona. When I was teaching special education, first in inner city Baltimore and later in an alternate school, I provided untold pairs of sneakers, winter jackets, school supplies, and totally unglamorous but very much appreciated packages of socks, underwear and hygeine supplies.

I still drop off things for the last school where I taught.

Since I know how difficult it can be for a released prison inmate to re-integrate into society, especially some with no family support, I've been known to pay the first month's expenses in a specialized reentry community program for someone I think has a good chance of making it if given half an opportunity.

Now I tend to give to charities that have a personal meaning for me. One of my daughters participates in a yearly "Penguin Plunge" for an animal shelter. A brother is active in raising money for the public library in the town where I grew up. A memorial scholarship fund was established for a sister at the university where she taught before she died.

I don't officially tithe, but I do use 10% as a base figure for contributions. I don't especially worry about whether the contributions are tax deductible or not.