Guest post: No respectable charity would ever make that ludicrous claim

Originally a comment by Josh Spokes on More lies.

I realize this is probably obvious to many, but I want to point out another way in which he’s not only lying but doesn’t even know how to lie convincingly about this.

I’m the executive at a nonprofit charity. The kind with the IRS tax designation 501(c)(3). This is this the kind of charity where a donor can deduct the contribution from her taxes. Think the Red Cross, your local food pantry, animal shelter, educational nonprofit. Also the same designation as charities like those run by Trump or Hillary Clinton. It’s all the same beast for tax purposes:

1. No charity in the world sends 100 percent of its money to other charities, nor does it spend 100 percent of its money “on the mission.” That is not objectively possible.

2. Why? Because humans have to be paid to carry out the mission. This is why charities have staff. Only the tiniest charitable groups of maybe a few hundred or thousand active donors run entirely on volunteer support.

3. Even those few charities that are all volunteer have costs. The minute a volunteer puts a first class stamp on an envelope to send a donor a thank you letter, that’s a percentage of the charity’s money that it spent on something other than the core mission. It’s an administrative expense.

Again, it’s not possible for any charity under any circumstances to have no overhead costs.

4. No respectable charity would ever make that ludicrous claim. First because it’s not true, and second because it’s not believable. We in the nonprofit sector work hard to spend as much as we can directly on the mission and as little as possible on “administration.” But that itself is a game anyway, since the mission happens through the administrative expense of paying professionals to carry it out.

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