After Hurricane Katrina struck, money was flowing in as fast as the waters of Lake Pontchartrain and more than a few do-gooders thought there was little harm in skimming just a bit off the top. So far, 49 volunteers have been indicted for scamming donations that were intended for victims, but the investigation is spreading to other states and this is expected to be just the tip of the iceberg.
The United Way has never fully recovered from its scandal-filled 90s and the Red Cross has been trying to patch some bad holes in its moral fabric for some time now. Now that these icons of American charity and generosity have shown their feet are made of clay, what do future generations see as models for their generous spirits? The Red Cross said it is "devising new systems with the help of the FBI and Secret Service so that such fraud will be easier to detect in the future." What? We need the Secret Service to monitor a volunteer organization?
Can’t you just see the next Red Cross "Contribution Distribution" chart? 10% to legal fees, 10% to the Secret Service, 10% to Legal Aid fund for volunteers who will sue the Red Cross because they felt they were "entitled" to at least gas money, 10% to internal audits to search for further flaws in the system, 5% to media train spokespeople to deal with crises and 25% to administration and salaries. Not much left for those who actually need aid.
Charity is big business and Clara Barton has gotten too big for her bloomers.
Hat tip to Dandy Stevenson for her thoughts.