The Internet has created a golden opportunity for charities, nonprofits and crooks alike. In the last week alone, if I had contributed even $5 to each of the e-mails that flooded my in-box asking for money, I’d eventually end up broke, homeless and starving.
For instance, just today, the last day of the Year, December 31, 2015, another deluge of e-mails asking for donations flooded in, and I’m not counting the petitions that ask for my signature or advertisements that make life altering promises to bless your life with whatever they want you to buy.
For instance, in one e-mail, Nancy Pelosi was asking for a $5 or $10 dollar donation to help beat the Republicans at the voting booth in 2016. I’m not a Democrat. I’m an independent voter. Pelosi sends several e-mails like this every week. Sometimes I reply and tell her what I really think about both of the corrupt major political parties. She never replies, but she does keep sending endless requests for contributions.
In another e-mail, Tammy Baldwin begged me to donate, so the (power hungry, greedy, never have enough) Koch brothers could be defeated in their attempt to buy America. She asked for $5, $10, $25 or another amount.
In a 3rd e-mail, someone called John Seller via the Other98% wrote that the “Other98 is just a few thousand bucks short of our fundraising goal for the year!” John said, “Can you chip in $3 or more before the year is over?”
No, John, I will not chip in. When I scrolled through John’s e-mail, I discovered that my $3 or more would have helped keep dirty oil, gas, and coal in the ground, and fight for fair wages and clean jobs for all, etc.
- Diana Aviv, who claims to be the CEO of Feeding America, asked for a tax-deductible contribution and said the “need is urgent and the clock is ticking down.”
I thought: Wait, my federal income taxes already held fund SNAP (federally funded food stamps) so I’m already helping to feed Americans who don’t earn enough to feed their families.
Five ended in my Spam folder, and five asked me to rush $20 or more – or whatever you can afford – to Soldiers’ Angels? They said, Dear Friends, “Any last minute donation you can give will go far to ensure that our military service members, veterans, wounded warriors, and military families also have a strong start in 2016.”
But I’m a veteran, and the troops are paid monthly for their service to their country and the job comes with free room and board, and most wounded warriors disabled in combat earn disability payments for life through the Veterans Administration.
- Oprah, who is a billionaire, sent a newsletter, that I never open or read, except for this post, and she said “Let’s do this together – join me,” but Weight Watchers is not free. The plans start at $4.61 and go up from there depending on the plan you sign up for. I wonder how much Weight Watchers pays Oprah to advertise for them so underpaid and overweight workers will hand over their money to lose weight.
- National People’s Action asked me to donate so they could meet their goal of raising $5,000, and if I gave them $25, they’d send me an NPA T-shirt as a special thank you. They claimed they would use the money to fight for social change.
I asked myself, what kind of social change—would my money be used to support the right to life movement that wants to make abortions illegal or the right for a woman to make the legal choice for herself if she wants an abortion?
- In another e-mail, End Citizens United.org suggested that I support them with $5.00, and that I should rush my donation by midnight to become an “Early 2015 Member and we’ll send you a limited-edition membership card in the mail.”
Wow, I thought, what an offer—a limited edition membership card!
- Lindsay Wildlife wrote in their e-mail, “Until the clock strikes midnight, you may still support Lindsay in 2015 by making a gift. Your dollars benefit education and respect for wildlife, both now and in the future.”
- Brig. Gen. John I. Pray, Jr (ret) asked for $60 to $250, claiming it was “a much-needed donation to help support our military, veterans and their families. … Every dollar helps us support the brave military and their families who work so hard to protect the freedoms we enjoy daily.”
But I already think that our taxes supports the largest bloated defense budget in the world that is supposed to also pay our troops enough to help support their families. If U.S. military families are so destitute and poor, where is that $800 billion going every year that funds America’s huge military machine?
- General (Ret.) Wesley Clark asked me to contribute $3 to VoteVets before midnight. Retired General Clark mentioned the Koch brothers and Donald Trump to stir fear that might motivate me to give them what little money I have left.
- Writer’s Digest generously offered 30% OFF Digital Products and made sure that I knew the offer ends December 31, but these Writers Digest offers arrive almost every day in my in-box, so in a few days or weeks, the same offer will probably arrive again. I delete most of them without opening.
- Sherrod Brown, another politician like Pelosi and Baldwin, threw out the names of the Koch Brothers and Karl Rove to strike fear in my heart, and then asked me to donate from $5, $10, $25 or more. Brown said, “The Koch brothers and Karl Rove are here to stay. Luckily, so are we. We beat these groups back in 2012 by coming together, one small donation at a time, and organizing for the things that matter to us. We can’t stop that now.”
- Elizabeth Warren for Senate asked for a donation in another e-mail, but no suggested amount was mentioned. Curious, I clicked the link to donate and discovered that the starting donation was $5 and it goes up from there to $500 or more. Warren, if it was really Warren, said, “If we’re going to step up our fight for America’s middle class, Democrats must take the majority in the Senate in 2016. It’s that simple.”
- In the next e-mail that I opened, Steve Anderson said this would be his last email. And then he asked me to donate to OpenMedia to help protect Net Neutrality. In the PS, Anderson, whoever he is, asked me to give monthly. Anderson said, “Don’t let this opportunity slip away—please chip in now so we can continue defending your rights in 2016.”
I had to stop listing all the desperate pleas for money, and I still had twenty-one more that I hadn’t opened that I could have added to the list—with eight more hours left until the birth of 2016.
ALERT: Be careful who you donate your hard earned money to, because Consumer Affairs.com reports that there are many charity scams and it has been revealed that these telemarketers or e-mail marketers pocket most of the funds they solicit for charities and nonprofits. In fact, for-profit fundraisers keep 52 cents of every dollar they raised.
For instance, remember those retired generals who asked me for money to help needy military families and veterans. Well, it helps to be informed when donating to veterans charities. Consumer Affairs reports, “There are a number of legitimate charitable organizations working to help veterans, active-duty personnel, and their families. Unfortunately, unscrupulous individuals capitalize on consumer patriotism to perpetuate fraud and make a quick profit. The AG’s office says it has received reports of potentially fraudulent activities.”
In addition, James Limback, a Washington D. C. reporter for more than thirty years, writes, “’Tis the season for many consumers to open their hearts and wallets to a variety of charities. But National Consumers League (NCL), the nation’s oldest consumer advocacy organization, has issued an alert to consumers that con artists may take advantage of their generosity this time of year with bogus charities posing as legitimate ones.
“It’s that time of year again when we begin to hear from consumers about crooks’ attempts to take advantage of the holiday giving season for their personal gain,” said NCL Executive Director Sally Greenberg. “If you’re thinking of giving to a charity this season, good for you! But be careful — some scammers out there may be looking to take advantage of your generosity.”
Lloyd Lofthouse is a former U.S. Marine and Vietnam Veteran,
who taught in the public schools for thirty years (1975 – 2005).
Lofthouse’s first novel was the award winning historical fiction My Splendid Concubine [3rd edition]. His second novel was the award winning thriller Running with the Enemy followed by his award winning memoir Crazy is Normal.
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