Charity hoaxes impact holiday donations

Hannah Holliday, Copy Editor

Due to false social media posts, many rumors have been circling lately about the credibility of well-known charities. As more tragedies happen, more people want to feel helpful in any way they can. Though most people have good intentions, this want can lead to spending money unwisely or being a victim of hoaxes.

Goodwill is one of the most controversial charities currently. Many social media posts are spreading the notion that Goodwill takes donations from kind people wanting to help just to turn a profit, but this is not the case. One post references a so-called “Goodwill CEO and Owner, Mark Curran” who “profits 2.3 million a year.” This information is completely false, as Goodwill wrote in a statement released on their website that “Steve Preston is the president and CEO of Goodwill Industries International,” though the statement did not specify the amount of money Preston earns, instead stating that “more than 87% of collective revenue from the sale of donated goods at Goodwill organizations supports and grows their critical community-based programs and services.”

Goodwill also states many times on their website that their main avenue of helping people is providing jobs for the unemployed and/or disabled. A common misconception is that selling used items at more affordable prices is their main operation, but it is not. The more items that are donated and stores that are opened, the more jobs that Goodwill can provide. A donation impact calculator is available on Goodwill’s website at

There have been many reports of misconceptions with the American Red Cross as well. Incidents have been reported of workers being lazy or denying people service and money being mishandled, but these are rare and isolated events. Unfortunately, not every person working for a charity has the best intentions and it is important to realize the large majority of workers are helpful and not everyone can handle stressful situations well. The Red Cross website states an average of “90 cents per dollar” is used to help people, and the money mishandling was resolved by administration.

Crowdfunding is a popular way that people donate to help people going through tragedies, but it is not always the best. According to CNN, “three of the most active sites — Fundly, GoFundMe and GiveForward — charge transaction fees of 5%.” Credit card fees are also common. It is also much harder to determine if the place being donated to is a hoax or not, as it can be almost impossible to do a background check.

Background checks are useful in deciding if the cause is credible or not. There are many easy ways to check where money is being spent. The Better Business Bureau’s ( has a compilation of reviews from people of many different backgrounds, giving a diverse look at different charities. Many businesses are tracked and given a rating compiled of averages from the reviews, therefore making the site a good place to check credibility.

Another useful site is Charity Navigator ( It has the performance metrics of almost every charity. This website is useful for seeing where a charity spends its money and where, specifically, donated money goes.

Because of the many misconceptions spread via social media, it is  important to check sources and make sure that rumors are abolished so that the most people possible can receive the help they need.