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Since I have the POA to write checks and handle the bookkeeping for mom and dad, when he gets mail he will leave me the tear off cards and mark how much of a donation he wants to make. I am now keeping track and some of these places send solicitations on a very regular basis. Dad has special and understandable soft spot for the VFW, USO etc, and has been sucked into the stories of how no one else cares for these guys. I researched and learned VFW does not spend their dollars as wisely as some other similar organizations. What I really resent is how these organizations exploit the weaknesses and sensitivities of the greatest generation. I saw one survey that was written in such a way that it would allow them (AARP Foundation) to target the specific appeals. It may be legal, but it really is disturbing.

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I know what you mean... Previous to his accident and my becoming POA and handling his bills and mail, my dad was being very generous to a few well-chosen charities, and also a slew of less impressive groups. Lots of different "nature" groups with pictures of animals on the envelopes begging him by name to help them in their plights, lots of reservations, charities with names that sound kind of similar to other charities, etc..... Frankly I intercept the mail and toss everything except the few, reputable charities that he remembers and advises me of his wishes about without seeing the mailings. Anything containing a tote bag, calculator or other junk is tossed practically before it is through the mail slot.
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This became a problem while my mom was still paying her own bills. When she started needing help to balance the checking account I realized that she was sending checks to several “marginal” charities. We showed her the statistics and asked her to only donate to recognized, reputable organizations, but it didn’t help. I finally had to take her checkbook (I held POA), leaving her with a credit card with a low limit. Shortly after, she got another call from one of these charities and told them she no longer had a checkbook. They asked for a credit card number and she gave it to them. They charged her account multiple times before I got the next statement. I cancelled the credit card and called the “charity” to ask them to reverse the charges. They told me she had authorized the charges so they kept the money. That was the end of the credit card and I totally took over the finances. I was trying to give my mom as much independence as possible, but had to weigh that against preserving her assets for her care. If your parent can no longer accurately judge the quality of these charities it is time to take over.
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This seems to be a common problem for the vulnerable elderly. Who can resist those appealing liquid brown eyes or the starving children, most of whom look well fed and have amazingly good teeth. yes a few ads do show actually starving children.
Many times I will donate actual goods so there is no chance of money being diverted. For example we give all our containers with a deposit to the SPCA and I have donated other useful things. They always need stuff like cleaning supplies.
I refuse to donate to the United Way because of the bullying tactics used by employers to extract contributions.
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Mother used to fall for every single plea that came in the mail. Esp if there was a pad of scratch paper or some return address stickers--she felt guilty for not contributing.

I sat her down one day and explained that MOST of these "charities" are only giving between 3%-12% of what you send them to the actual cause. She was appalled, of course. I explained overhead, mailing costs, people working the phones-etc., and she stopped giving to all but a couple of favorite charities. I said if she felt guilty about keeping the junk they sent along with the plea, to throw it away and forget about it. (She doesn't).

It IS her money and she manages it well, it was just hard to hear her complain about not having enough for some treat for herself and then find she'd paid $100 out in scam charities.

Bless her heart, she still sends her grandchildren a $5 bill on their birthdays. 2 of my kids are millionaires...and I have begged her to stop doing this, but she wants to. $5 to them--they wouldn't bend down to pick up a $5!! But, she won't stop, and I just tell my kids it's a way to be sure they call her once a year.
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Here in the UK we had a mega scandal a couple of years ago when an elderly woman who lived on nothing but her pension but was also a longstanding donor to numerous worthy causes became so distressed by the growing stream of appeals which she could not answer that she committed suicide. A Committee was formed to look into fund raising practices. The Committee's conclusion used none of the four-letter words I would have picked but it was still quite damning.

And never mind reputable, never mind established, never mind registrations and audits and all the rest of it. These not-for-profit organisations are very much for income generation and will quite legally use the full range of strategies to wring as much as they can out of anyone they think they can touch. Not only that, but there is a further income stream in selling the names and contact details of confirmed donors to other organisations: send £5 to the poor aged donkeys of Algeria, and by next Christmas you will also be asked to help retired llamas, arthritic water buffalo and horses, horses everywhere. Your father is being fleeced. Willingly, legally, and for no doubt good ends, but fleeced none the less.

The best way to help your father perform his duty both effectively and proportionately is to sit him down with a list of his priority organisations and devise a schedule of giving, and agree with him that any further unsolicited communications go unopened in the bin. End of.
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Protecting your relative's assets for their own use is the key. Inflation in all areas of necessary spending was eating away at my Mom's savings, so charitable donations had to be limited. As my 84 year old Mom suffers from early dementia, discussing anything about her spending only presented an opportunity for argument. Although I have DPOA, my Mom retains her checkbooks and credit/debit card (only 1). The only solution to the problem of her donating too much (more than $600/year) was to intercept the mail. Only 2 worthy (I checked them out) animal rescue charities mailings are given to her now and only 1 each / month. Mom enjoys giving these worthy charities $25.00/mo each. I explained that by actually writing the checks, vs automatic withdrawal, she can truly enjoy the giving each month. Mom lives with me in her own granny suite. I have the ringers turned off our home's landline phones so that all incoming calls go to the answering machine in my living area.
I really wish her great-grandkids would write each month as I'm quite sure she would send them the same $25.00 each for college savings accounts.
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My Mom gave to only reputable charities, but would forget she had already written a check and would make multiple donations. Even the good charities keep sending requests for money over the year, and she would respond to them as if she hadn't already given. When we realized this was happening we basically took over her bill paying for her. She didn't give so much that it hurt her finances, and it all went to excellent causes, so no real harm was done thank goodness!
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I now have a policy of only donating locally.
I was once on a committee that dispersed State money to local organizations. We were urged to dispense all the money because then we could ask for more next year. Only served one year!!!!!!!!
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My mother too fell to giving to charities beyond her means. The charities did not stop sending when I called them, so I had the addresses changed to my address. My mother was not cognizant enough to realize she could not give, even after it was explained to her.
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thanks for telling the names of the nasty charities. My mom gets phone calls from a feeble female voice asking for my mom by first name. I assumed it was maybe her last remaining girlfriend and it ended up being a woman trying to get money for breast cancer. She calls regularly. I pretended to be my mom once (answered and told her to hang on and then said hello in a 91 year old voice) and she was telling "my mom" about the nasty woman she just spoke to!
You can check to see the percentage of what donations charities take in. Some are shameless. I myself give to local animal rescue and Greenpeace.
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