Corrections or additions?
This article was prepared for the December 19, 2001 edition of
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
There no fewer than 819,000 charities in the United
States. Supporting health, education, the arts, international relief,
the environment, animal welfare, religious organization, and human
services, each and every one would like a few of your dollars —
now, and in perpetuity.
Where to give?
One way to decide is to evaluate how good a job charities do of
donations to work. When donors discovered the American Red Cross
to put into reserve a portion of the money it collected to aid victims
of the September 11 attacks, there was outrage. Donors made it clear
they wanted as much of the money as possible to go directly to the
families. While the charity differs, donor sentiment remains the same
on this issue. Few people feel good about giving money to a charity
that uses the bulk of donations for fundraising, administrative costs,
or future reserves.
Worth magazine, in its December issue, used percentage of money put
to work as intended as a yardstick to measure charities. In naming
America’s Best 100 Charities, the magazine revealed how much of every
$100 received these stellar non-profits funnel directly to the causes
they serve — and what percentage of donations goes to fundraising,
administrative costs, and future reserves. On the high end, the
Council on Aging puts $96 out of every 100 dollars into programs to
aid senior citizens. Most of the rest in the top 100 allocate
above $60 to their programs, and amounts over $85 are common.
A relatively low number of dollars going directly into programs is
not necessarily a bad thing, however. Ashoka, a promoter of social
entrepreneurship that was founded in 1980 by a former McKinsey & Co.
consultant, gives three-year living stipends to individuals who run
innovative development projects. The organization, based in Arlington,
Virginia, puts only $35 directly into programs. It pays its stipends
in installments, so it needs to keep a large reserve. Worth approves
and lists it among the best 100.
Beyond allocation of donations, Worth looked at the length of time
a charity has been in existence, consulted philanthropy experts, and
sought to determine how much of an impact each charity is making.
It did not include arts organizations, or charities with ties to a
religious group. Worth’s editors admit that many excellent charities
did not make the list. But a number that did make the cut have ties
to the greater Princeton area, either because their founders live
here, they maintain offices here, or they run projects or programs
the term "senility," the Alzheimer’s Association has spent
$120 million on research for the prevention and treatment of a disease
that affects 4 million Americans. The money has led to the development
of drugs that can postpone onset and to a vaccine now in clinical
trials. Of every $100 it raises, $76 goes to programs.
12 Roszel Road, Suite C-201, Princeton 08540. 609-514-1180.
Cancer Society has spent more than $2.2 billion on cancer research,
and has funded the work of 31 Nobel Prize winners. It also provides
cancer education, including a 24-hour cancer information hot line.
Of every $100 it raises, $68 goes to its programs.
08902-6001; Eastern division headquarters. 732-297-8000.
Princeton Pike, Lawrenceville 08648-2304. 609-895-0101.
Association has funded $1.9 billion in research to cures for heart
disease, which kills 950,000 Americans each year. It educates the
public about the symptoms and risk factors for heart disease and
It is working to improve public access to portable defibrillators.
Of every $100 it raises, $72 goes to its programs.
Brunswick 08902; New Jersey affiliate. 732-821-2610.
Christmas Seals in 1904. Originally founded to fight against
the organization now focuses on the effects of smoking and air
helps asthmatics learn how to manage their disease, and funds research
on lung function and disease. Of every $100 it raises, $79 goes to
Drive, Building A-20, Princeton 08540-2006. 609-452-2112.
for children since 1904, this organization reports that youngsters
in its program are less likely to use drugs, skip school, or behave
violently, and more likely to get good grades and be self-confident.
Of every $100 it raises, $69 goes to its programs.
East Franklin Street, Trenton 08610. 609-656-1000.
signature event is the "Race for the Cure," which raises
and money for breast cancer research, education, screening, and
The foundation was begun in 1982 by Nancy Brinker in memory of her
sister, who died of the disease. Since then it has raised $400 million
and awarded $87 million in research grants. Of every $100 it raises,
$75 goes to programs.
Commons Way, Montgomery Commons, Princeton 08540. 609-497-2126.
to build future leaders by engaging children in activities such as
camping and community service that stress responsibility and
It serves 650,000 children in 40 states. Of every $100 it raises,
$84 goes to its programs.
Trenton 08610. 609-695-8410.
1,165 member agencies dedicated to improving the lives of at-risk
kids through abuse prevention, youth development, child care,
and foster care programs. It writes national standards for the
and helps them deliver their services more efficiently. Of every $100
it raises, $88 goes to its programs.
South Clinton Avenue, Trenton 08611-0831. 609-695-6274.
Paralysis Association and the Christopher Reeve Foundation merged
in 1999, adding Superman’s star power to a hardworking but publicity
starved organization," writes Worth magazine. The new group is
one of those that Worth approves even though it is currently sinking
a large of amount of money into reserves rather than programs, which
try to improve the lives of the estimated 400,000 people with spinal
cord injury paralysis. Of every $100 it raises, $33 goes to its
and $56 is currently being placed in reserve.
The organization does not have a Princeton area office, but Reeve
was raised in Princeton and began his acting career on the stage of
McCarter Theater. Contact the foundation at 800-225-0292 or at
adults utilize the organization’s 450 centers for recreation, child
care, job training, and medical rehabilitation. Of every $100 it
$75 goes to its programs.
Brunswick 08816. 732-257-6662. Www.easterseals.org.
Foundation Fighting Blindness. Founded by Princeton resident
Gordon Gund, who serves as chairman of the board, this foundation
funds research into retinal degenerative diseases, which impair 6
million Americans. Since 1971, it has funded $150 million in research.
One recent gene therapy project successfully created eyesight in dogs
that were born blind. Of every $100 it raises, $80 goes to its
Headquartered until several years ago in Gund’s Nassau Street office,
the foundation is now in Owings Mills, Maryland. 888-394-3937.
for Humanity has built 120,000 homes by bringing together donors,
who supply materials and some labor, and recipients, who exchange
sweat equity for a down payment. Of every $100 it raises, $65 goes
to its programs.
Princeton 08542-4509. 609-921-3695.
Avenue, Trenton 08638. 609-393-8009.
mad mother, whose four-year-old child was killed when a drunk driver
rear-ended her car, to start this movement back in 1980. Since then
the number of Americans killed by drunk drivers each year has
from 28,000 to 16,000. Many people credit MADD for more stringent
drunk driving laws. Of every $100 it raises, $66 goes to its programs.
a drive to education expectant mothers on the importance of taking
folic acid before and during pregnancy. Doing so reduces birth
including spina bifida and anencephaly. Of every $100 it raises, $74
goes to its programs.
Boulevard, Cranbury 08512. 609-655-7400 Www.modimes.org
than in the finest restaurants. This organization fights hunger and
poverty through celebrity cooking events and annual readers by big
name writers. Among its programs: Cooking and nutrition programs for
low-income families. Of every $100 it raises, $84 goes to its
The organization is based in Washington, D.C. 800-969-4767. For
on the Princeton area efforts, see story, beginning on page 14.
handicapped children and adults receive year-round training and
in 26 sports in the United States and in 150 other countries. Of every
$100 it raises, $61 goes to its programs.
Princeton Forrestal Village, Princeton 08540. 609-734-8400.
and others in 122 nations. They offer fitness activities, family
and child care. Of every $100 the organization raises, $85 goes to
Hamilton 08619. 609-581-9622. Www.hamiltonymca.org.
Hightstown 08520. 609-448-1357.
Brunswick 08816. 732-257-4114.
Pennington 08534. 609-737-3048.
girls and to eliminate racism. It is the largest provider of shelter
services for women and their families. In addition to offering
on economic empowerment, conflict resolution, and violence prevention,
the organization provides child care and after-school services. Of
every $100 it raises, $76 goes to its programs.
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