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How Can You Help the Tsunami Victims?

It seems every day the death rate from the tsunami increases by tens of thousands. Last Sunday when I first read about it, it was 2500 and this morning, one week later:

  • The death toll is expected to exceed 150,000
  • 500,000 are seriously injured
  • Five million people are homeless

With statistics like this many of us are highly motivated to help in any way we possibly can. Worldwide donations to aid those battered by the huge waves that slammed Asian and African nations are approaching $1 billion. The US initially donated $35 million but has now increased that to $350 million. Japan has pitched in $500 million.

Charitable donations are an important part of my life purpose and mission. The USA Today has posted a list of organizations that are providing aid to the tsunami victims. If you are like me, however, you will want to make sure that every single penny you donate is used wisely and efficiently. I just hate having over half my donations going to benefit the organization and not the people that need it.

I thought many of you might benefit from my investigations into charitable organizations. This analysis was initially prompted by the World Trade Center disaster. I learned that there are more than 600,000 organizations in the US alone that are clamoring for your money.

Experts in the worlds of business and academia regard Peter Drucker as the founding father of the study of management. He recently analyzed these 600,000 charities and found that by far the Salvation Army is the most effective charitable organization in the US. No one even comes close to it in respect to their:

  • Clarity of mission,
  • Ability to innovate,
  • Measureable results,
  • The most important issue - - Putting the donation to maximum use

The Salvation Army has 10,000 centers and 50,000 employees in the US and is probably best known for its work with the homeless, the addicted and the poor. While it may seem like an American organization, it is actually headquartered in London and operates in 108 countires around the world.

By virtually every measure the Salvation Army has emerged as the GE of philanthropies. Their distinctive red shield is right up there with the Coca-Cola bottle and the Nike Swoosh logo as one of the best-known and most trusted symbols of branding. For over ten years they have owned the number one spot on the Chronicle of Philanthopy's list of the US most popular charities.

What impresses my most though is their leadership. Folks the Salvation Army receives nearly three billion dollars every year in US donations. Can you guess how much their CEO leader makes every year? If that person were in a regular business I can assure you it would be MANY millions of dollars. I don't want to tell you the Salavation Army's US leader makes until you promise me you are sitting down.

Are you sitting down? OK, then here it is:

A whopping $13,000 per year.

Yes folks, US Salvation Army works with nearly three billion dollars of donated funds every year and their US CEO earns $13,000. That is about half the salary I pay my least paid assistant. Amazing, absolutely amazing. This number speaks volumes to me and is one the primary reasons why I have selected them as my primary charity. I am in good company as last year they received a gift estimated to be in excess of $1.5 billion from the estate of Joan B. Kroc, wife of the founder of McDonald's.

So if you are as interested as I am in making sure that every penny you donate is used with the maximum efficiency please consider using the Salvation Army as a charitable destination. You can go to the middle of their home page and click on the donate on line button in the section on Tsunami Relief. You can rest assured that there is little waste in this organization and that the highest possible use of every single cent you donate will be maximized.

New York Times January 1, 2005

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