I had reason to contact three different “charities” in the last week, and I am surprised at how unhelpful they are.
I get letters regularly asking for donations and once in awhile, when I can afford it, I send a check. No more. The next time I am tempted to send a check to a charity, I will instead put that amount of money into my savings account. Here is why.
Last Thursday I went to the Salvation Army to see if they could help me with my current financial crisis. There was a sign in their window. It read, “Only open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 to 4. Call for an appointment”. So I got out a pen and a piece of paper to write down the number to call. It was not anywhere on the sign or posted anywhere in the window, the door, or the building. I jotted down the hours they say they’re there and came home and looked up their phone number. Their office is 13 miles from my house. That meant I’d already used gas to go 26 miles and would have to travel that far again, if I could get an appointment.
On Friday I called for an appointment. I’m having problems paying my utility bill this month. Just this month. For some reason, this town will NOT let you get behind, not even one month. The money is due August 8. A $25 late fee is added August 9 and service is cut off August 15. The bill is dated July 18. That does not give me even a month to get the thing paid. I did not receive the bill on the 18th. That’s when they printed it. But I digress.
When the woman at the Salvation Army answered, she said it was too early to schedule an appointment. She said cut-off must be imminent to get any help. She said to call back on August 12. I told her on August 12, there would be another $25 added to the bill for a late fee. She said she couldn’t help that. This is how they do things. And also, they only help $100 worth. I’d need the rest of the money or they would not help at all.
Ok. So I will need an extra $25 more for my part of the bill because they won’t help until the $25 late fee has been added. She can’t pay $100 towards the bill for me until the 12th or later and by doing that, $25 of the money she says she might pay will go for late fees. Does this make fiscal sense to anyone else in the world? That means The Salvation Army will pay $75 towards my utility bill, but will claim they paid $100? ($25 will be paid for the late fee they insist I incur before they help.)
This means IF I had donated to the Salvation Army (and I have in the past), $25 of the money I gave to help people who need help will go to the electric company that they are trying to pay – for a late fee. The Salvation Army will NOT be getting any more money from me. They are fiscally irresponsible in this endeavor. One-fourth of the money they give out for utility bill help does not really help the client at all.
I’m still looking for a way to pay this bill. I hope to figure it out before the late fee is added. Charity begins at home. If I had saved money I’ve donated, I would not sit and wait until the bill was $25 higher to pay it out of the saved money. It makes me wonder why they do? It’s as if they told me, “You’re not desperate enough yet. Come back when things are even worse.”
No, Salvation Army, I will not come back at all, for any reason.