Our mailbox is always full these last couple days of December: Christmas cards, letters, store catalogs, flyers for holiday events, etc. But most notably are all the charitable donation requests. December is year end for many charitable organizations and it is also the last chance to give before the end of the tax year.
As a former Executive Director of a non-profit organization, I cast a wary eye on many of these requests. If the organization cannot tell me where the money will be used, what percent goes to overhead or even their legal name or tax identification number, the envelope gets recycled without a second thought (that also goes for all those charitable phone calls I get).
One “charity” that always gets my goat this time of year is the Human Society of the United States (HSUS). They send out these cute campaign brochures with sad puppies and kitties all over them. They talk about stopping factory farming and rescuing animals. But if you look closer, HSUS does not own or operate any animal shelters, nor do they spend a majority of their budget on animal rescue. In fact, they spend much of it on lobbying efforts, pension plans and more fundraising.
So what is a charitable person suppose to do? First do your homework. If the charity is local, look them up on your state’s Secretary of State website. They should be registered as a 501c3 non-profit. Also, check out Charity Navigator to see how their money is spent. If you get a phone call from a charity that doesn’t let you talk over your donation with your spouse, hang up. Once I had a “Veterans” charity call me and they could not send to a website or other place for more information about them or did the caller know the tax ID number. They said that they were just a volunteer. Wrong answer. Good volunteers would know that info or could get a manager who does. Lastly, do not give out your credit card number out over the phone. Ask for a donation envelope or secure website to donate on.
If you are interested in giving in ways to help agriculture this season, here are some of Zweber Farms favorites.
MOSES: serves farmers striving to produce high-quality, healthful food using organic and sustainable techniques. MOSES has given many farmers like us the resources and the support to start and to continue farming organically.
Heifer International: Their mission is to work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth. This is one of my favorite charities to give to. The catalogs are fun, where you can choose to “donate” everything from bees to water buffalo. Even though your donation is directed to the most needed area, it is fun to know what your dollars can do. Organic Valley also has a partnership with Heifer called: More Organic For Everyone (MORE). Check it out
AgChat Foundation: Do you like how our farm “tells our story” and wish more farmers would do the same? AgChat Foundation was started to give producers and those in the agriculture industry the skills and resource to tell the story of food, fuel and fiber production. Tim serves on the advisory board.
MN Agriculture in the Classroom: Do you wish more students had connections to where their food comes from? Support groups like Ag in the Classroom. Each state has one in some form or another. As the former executive director, I know for certain this organization makes our “A” list.
Local Animal Shelter: Due to the millions being donated to HSUS in thoughts that people are helping shelters, local shelters are actually loosing out. If you want to support animal rescues, support your local shelter.
Giving a charitable donation is a great gift for those “hard to buy for” types. Make sure to do your homework and support those causes that matter most to you.
Zweber Farms is a 4th generation family operated organic dairy. We are proud Organic Valley farmer members and sell our milk under that label. We also specialize in sustainably raised beef, pork and chicken and sell it directly to customers in Minnesota.Visit our website to learn more, www.zweberfarms.com. Connect with us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
My agriculture donations went to the K-State College of Ag livestock judging scholarships and the Agriculture Animal Alliance adopt a teacher program.
Our donations this Christmas season went to the Petaluma FFA. Important programs like this need to stay available to students in high school! Great post!