Want a Donation With Your Fries?

When you go through the drive-thru at a fast food restaurant and are asked to donate $1.00 for a cause such as March of Dimes, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, or any other charity, where does that money go?  And if you tell them "no," should they keep asking or try to guilt you into giving? 

I just went to the drive through windows at White Castle where after placing my order I was asked if I would like to donate $1.00 to the March of Dimes.  Understanding this as a simple yes/no question I answered "no."  But when I got to the window, the question was restated by the female teenager in such a way that I took offense.  "Are you sure you don't want to donate a dollar to help stop babies from getting birth defects?"  I would think that she would understand that no means no.  I might have pointed this out to her, but instead I replied, "are you sure you don't want to donate a dollar to me because the change from that $20 bill is the only cash I have to live off of for three weeks."  Boy, did I get a look.

And how do you know that your money is going where they state it will be going?  According to the Better Business Bureau, of the $163,397,000 raised in 2004, only $39,012,000 went to research and medical support. [http://charityreports.bbb.org/public/Report.aspx?CharityID=26].  That is less than twenty-four cents for every dollar donated.  The remainder went to public and professional education ($77,541,000) and community services ($46,844,000) with no further clarification as to what those services are.  How much of that was administrative costs?  The president of this particular organization was paid $501,216 as a salary in 2006 alone.  And of similar charities, March of Dimes ranks dead last according to Charity Navigator.  [http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4045]

Yet the BBB gave them a passing grade for meeting the standards for charity accountability.  These standards developed by the BBB with charitable donations of their own state that total program service expenses should be not less than 65% of revenue and not more than 35% fundraising expenses.

Save your money when asked to donate at a fast food restaurant.  If you wish to donate to a particular charity, do not do so on the spot without researching the charity on your own.  Make sure your money is going where you want it to go.  And pay with a check so that you can deduct it on your taxes.