Do Donor Shopping Guides Really Give a Cow?

cow.jpg When the Red Cross ran a "bait and switch" around 9/11, folks who had raised contributions from lemonade stands and garage sales were understandably "miffed." When you make a contribution, you want it to be used exactly as you were told it would be. That's accountability.

Donor Power Blog has run some quick analysis to show that such "bait and switch" is also happening with those fabulous charity gift catalogs that have been all the rage in the past years. The Blog pulled these quotes from the small print most folks ignore:

Heifer International -- The prices in this catalog represent the complete livestock gift of a quality animal, technical assistance and training. Each purchase is symbolic and represents a contribution to the entire mission of Heifer International. Donations will be used where needed most to help struggling people. (From the online gift catalog)

Oxfam America -- Oxfam America works in 26 countries around the world. This catalog contains gift items that symbolically represent our work. The items selected represent project goals from grants disbursed by our seven offices around the world. The purchase of each gift item is a contribution toward Oxfam America's many programs, not a donation to a specific project or goal. Your donation will be used where it is needed the most--to help people living in poverty throughout the world. (From the online gift catalog)

World Concern -- Items shown in this catalog illustrate World Concern's comprehensive ministry to provide help, hope and healing to people in need. Each purchase from this catalog is symbolic and represents a contribution to the entire mission of World Concern. (From the online gift catalog)

Seems like this is something the media (hello Stephanie Strom?!) would hone in on. But maybe it isn't as good a story as the original and compelling premise that you could, with money you might throw away over six months at Starbucks, buy a cow that "keeps on giving."

Susan Herr

Posted at 12:23 PM, Feb 09, 2007 in Accountability | Permalink | Comment