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Sunday, 12 April 2015 22:00

Reporter's Notebook: Donor Beware: Suitcase nonprofits can be risky

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When disaster strikes anywhere around the world, it’s not uncommon to see nonprofits and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) pop up, ready to solicit donations and help with relief efforts.

Many of them make it ultra-convenient to donate, whether that’s online or through a few taps on your smartphone, which is often a preferred avenue for younger donors.

“During times like this, you will often see what are referred to as ‘suitcase NGOs,’ where they form around a cause, and after a while, they simply disappear,” said Tony Connor, director of marketing at the Public Interest Registry, which is the organization that operates the .org domain and works to outfit nonprofits around the world with tools and resources.

This mad dash to give also plays into the hands of unscrupulous organizations, which look to capitalize off of the general public’s willingness to give — and take advantage of people who give without really taking the time to scrutinize the organization.

In my interview with Coby Chalmers, donor relations officer at the Kalamazoo Community Foundation, she noted the habits of many donors — primarily the younger generation — and their inclination to devote money to causes and not necessarily organizations.

“I think people are stepping back and realizing that they can make a difference, even with a little bit of money,” she said. “We’ve seen with things like crowdfunding how it can make an impact. With a lot of donors, they are giving to a cause — and that money is put to good use — but they’re giving to a cause and not necessarily an organization.”

Sources said that donors could do themselves some good, in the event of a major disaster, to reverse the trend and give to an established organization, rather than simply contribute to a cause. It just might ensure the money is better spent.

Read 1428 times Last modified on Monday, 13 April 2015 11:06
Jayson Bussa

Staff writer/Web editor

[email protected]

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