Thursday, November 21, 2013


Two days after the super typhoon hit the Philippines, I received several e-mails from friends asking where to write or send the check to donate. Yesterday November 21, 2013 at one of my study groups, many asked me about where to send their donations to the victims of the latest typhoon in the Philippines. I am compelled to write about this article because I have reasons to believe, I have the moral obligation to share my experiences with charitable  giving  and donating your hard earned money, especially my friends and business associates I did business with, (and established a trust based relationships), are donating to the Philippine relief efforts. Thank You for your compassion.

There were outpouring of relief (food mainly) and manpower supports from many developed countries from Europe and North America.
Initially, I was skeptical about the help coming from foreign organizations, because there are so much resources back home from local and foreign NGO's based in the Philippines. There are numerous billionaires in the Philippines. All of the above can initiate and provide the relief goods (food in particular). 
 In my facebook, I have written a short letter challenging the Philippine billionaires to help.
Some responded. Thank You.

I worked in social development with Philippine NGO's and briefly with the Cory Aquino Government, USAID/Philippines, CARE International, Plan International Philippines.
From 1983 to 1989 I visited many Philippine islands performed needs assessment, trainings and project proposal development (feasibility studies.) During my tenure in the Philippines, and based on data today...the problem of material poverty is still the "numero uno problema" in the Philippines. Paradoxically, Philippines is extremely rich in natural resources, and  many of the Pilipinos I met are gifted, talented and hardworking people. Many speak at least two languages . (English, Spanish, Tagalog, Ilonggo, Visaya (Cebuano), Ilocano languages, Southern Philippine languages, and many other Philippine regional languages. The official language today: English and Tagalog.  There are so many things I learned while working in social and economic projects in the Philippines. 

The strongest, influential and most powerful institution in the Philippines is the Philippine Catholic Church. Again, sadly to note many priests were killed in the Philippines (including many journalist) because many if not all of them spoke about the truth and confronted the social ills of the Philippines. The social and political problems of the Philippines is extremely complex. Complicated is an understatement.

Why am I giving you this brief background about the Philippines and charitable giving ?
If you are planning to give, give it responsibly by researching the nonprofit you have chosen to donate your hard earned cash. You can request from the nonprofit a report of their "givings", transactions and check how much are spent to pay their nonprofit CEO. In the USA, you can visit the IRS 990 and find out where most of your money go. 

Many NGO's and the people working for them are good and well-meaning individuals. There are some who take advantage of tragedies like the Philippines, to make money or enrich themselves by starting a big business called "nonprofit organizations." 
According to research the USA government grants at least $500 Billion to charities in the US and elsewhere (?). That is a lot of money.
The charitable givings amounted to trillion of dollars in the last decades or more. A big enterprise with less scrutiny from government regulators, and private watchdogs for NGO's.
So be mindful when you give, your compassion is not enough, be responsible and follow up if not check, if you are really compassionate to the true recipients of your hard earned and honest money. 

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