Filled Under: charity
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Renaissance of Hope
A French architect’s audacious plans for a ship that will change the ocean exploration is done.
Garnering comparisons to Star Trek’s starship Enterprise, the SeaOrbiter is the brainchild of French architect Jacques Rougerie. Set to begin construction this spring, the 190-foot-tall semisubmersible vessel will be the culmination of nearly 30 years of Rougerie’s research and development.
Six of the SeaOrbiter’s 12 floors are below sea level, allowing for uninterrupted underwater observation. Although the ship’s main mission is to research the biodiversity and climate of the sea, the real goal for Rougerie is to give the public a better understanding of how crucial the ocean is to Earth’s well-being.
Ninety-nine percent of the $50 million project was financed through the French government and private companies. To get people more involved, Rougerie is crowdfunding the last 1 percent of the project. “The more humans understand about the underwater world, the more respect they will have for it,” he says.
22 People: Number the SeaOrbiter can host. The ship will carry a mix of scientists and crew members.
Quite a View: ‘We want people to appropriate the project to themselves,” says Rougerie. Which is why he raised money through KissKissBankBank, a French crowdsourcing website, to fund construction of the Eye of the SeaOrbiter. Equivalent to a ship’s crow’s nest, the Eye towers 60 feet above the surface. It serves as a lookout and houses a communications system that lets the crew send live broadcasts of life on board.
Hard at Work: Keeping busy won’t be a problem for the crew. The “modular lab” can be used as a laboratory for scientists as well as a fitness room equipped with treadmills. The lab also includes a medical zone. A certified doctor with basic surgery skills will be on board in the event of an emergency.
2,600 Tons Displacement: The overall weight of the ship. It is built from 500 tons of Sealium, a recyclable aluminum designed for marine environments.
A Life Aquatic: Given that voyages will last three to six months, there will be ample time to collect data and perform experiments. The underwater area, known as the hyperbaric lab, is equipped with an observation deck made of transparent polycarbonate panels, allowing for direct underwater observation. Because the conditions underwater are similar to those in space in terms of pressure and isolation, the SeaOrbiter will be used by NASA and ESA (the European equivalent) for protocol training as well as physiological and psychological experiments.
Go With the Flow: The SeaOrbiter was designed primarily to float along with the ocean’s natural currents, allowing scientists to study the relationship between those currents and climate. The keel weighs 180 tons and helps provide stability to the ship. It can be retracted when the vessel is in shallow water.
5 Ships: The total number of SeaOrbiters Rougerie eventually hopes to build, one to sail in each of Earth’s oceans. A number of partners have given their support to the SeaOrbiter project, including National Geographic and UNESCO.
In the wake of tragedies large and small, they put up like mushrooms after a rain. With tales of woe and heartbreaking images of children or helpless animals, they beg for assistance. They are the tragi-charities. One hit wonders seeking to cash in on the tragedy of the day from floods and fires to missing children and more.
The pop-up charity business is usually local, occasionally regional and rarely national. Mostly they are the products of individual scammers who smell an opportunity to cash in using the name of a victim who may or may not even be real. They count on local press coverage and a quick website. These ‘charities’ usually rake in a few thousand dollars and disappear.
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Then there are the professional long term operations. They utilize direct mail or telemarketers to solicit millions of dollars in donations from unsuspecting individuals and businesses. Are you concerned you’ve already been scammed or just want to make sure you won’t be in the future? Here are some of the worst offenders:
Kids Wish Network
Cancer Fund of America
Children’s Wish Foundation International
American Breast Cancer Foundation
Firefighters Charitable Foundation
Breast Cancer Relief Foundation
International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
National Veterans Service Fund
American Association of State Troopers
Children’s Cancer Fund of America
Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation
Youth Development Fund
Committee For Missing Children
Association for Firefighters and Paramedics
Project Cure (Bradenton, FL)
National Caregiving Foundation
Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth
United States Deputy Sheriffs’ Association
Vietnow National Headquarters
Police Protective Fund
National Cancer Coalition
Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation
American Foundation For Disabled Children
The Veterans Fund
Heart Support of America
Veterans Assistance Foundation
Children’s Charity Fund
Wishing Well Foundation USA
Defeat Diabetes Foundation
Disabled Police Officers of America Inc.
National Police Defense Foundation
American Association of the Deaf & Blind
Reserve Police Officers Association
Optimal Medical Foundation
Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation
Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center
Children’s Leukemia Research Association
United Breast Cancer Foundation
Shiloh International Ministries
Circle of Friends For American Veterans
Find the Children
Survivors and Victims Empowered
Firefighters Assistance Fund
Caring for Our Children Foundation
National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition
American Foundation for Children With AIDS
Our American Veterans
Roger Wyburn- Mason & Jack M Blount Foundation for Eradication of Rheumatoid Disease
Firefighters Burn Fund
Hope Cancer Fund
This list was put together by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting based on federal tax filings for the last 10 years. Charities are broken up into five main categories: children, cancer, police/law enforcement, veterans, fire and other. These fifty charities account for more than $1.35 Billion in donations. Of that, $970 million went not to victims, but to the people who collected the money.
Related Article: 5 Ways You Can Donate to Charity Without Spending a Dime
The percentages spent by these “charities” on direct aid to victims range from 0% to a high of only 11.10%. Most of the organizations spent between 0.10% and 8.6% of what they collected in direct cash aid. This is a far cry from what well meaning contributors intended for their contributions.
It’s important to remember that these numbers are just for the 50 worst offenders. Charity watchdog organizations say no more than 35 percent of donations should go to fundraising costs. Only two of the fifty listed met this criteria. However, they still spent only 0% and 1.10% on direct cash aid.
The worst of the worst paid more than 90% of what they collected to solicitors. Thirty-three of the fifty paid between 70% and 89% to solicitors. Overhead costs consumed large chunks of what was remaining. Only the very small amount left, may get to the people who actually need it!
Do the Hustle
Con artists refer to what they do as a hustle. A hustle is like the 70′s disco dance. It’s made up of series of regular steps timed to the beat of the music that can be improvised as needed. Charity hustles work the same way. They improvise and evolve to stay one step ahead of unsuspecting donors.
Related Article: How I’m Donating This Year… and It Won’t Cost Me a Cent
One very common hustle is the name game. For example, a very well known and respected group is the Make a Wish Foundation. This organization spends the vast majority of it’s donations on children. Kids Wish Network, however, spends only 3 cents of every dollar collected on kids. But their website and solicitations are designed to look and sound like Make a Wish. In fact, they count on the confusion to gather contributions.
The IRS is Not the Answer
When a solicitor for one of these groups calls a prospective donor the pitch will include the truthful statement that they are a nonprofit organization. Nonprofit however does not mean they are a charity. It only means they do not seek to make a profit on their activities. A profit according to Investopedia.com is revenue that exceeds expenses. The IRS has pretty broad rules for being a nonprofit organization. A charity is only one type of nonprofit.
Trade groups like those that represent the fast food or soft drink producers operate as nonprofits. Political organizations including both the Democratic and Republican parties are nonprofits. Lots of different special interest groups are nonprofits, including some private businesses that pay their executives quite well.
The Hustle Part II – The Tell
The tell is a poker term. It means an opposing player does something to indicate he or she is bluffing. There are all sorts of questions that you could go through to determine if the solicitor on the other end of the phone is from an honest to goodness charity or not. They all require time and patience to learn and implement. The most sure-fire solution is to ask for the name of the organization and a means to contact them so you can make your donation at another time.
When you do this, depending on the experience of the solicitor, you will either hear a lot of fast talking or angry response or you will be provided the information. Legitimate charities with nothing to hide will tell you how you can make your contribution later and hustlers will get annoyed.
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Check Them Out
Before you make a contribution to any organization it is wise to know who they are and what they do. No legitimate fundraising effort is so urgent that if you do not make your contribution right at that moment someone will suffer. A day or two or even a week is not going to make a difference. So take the time to research.
There are a number of websites where you can check the status of a nonprofit. It only takes minutes but allows you to feel better about your donation. GuideStar.org requires that you sign up for a free account in order to receive very detailed reports on organizations. CharityNavigator.org provides a limited amount of information without a free membership. More detailed information is available to members. The Better Business Bureau has been around for decades. They provide free information that is easily digestible at a glance.
The bottom line for charitable giving is to trust your instinct. If a solicitation sounds too smooth or vague, be suspicious. Think of charitable giving in the same terms as international diplomacy, Trust but Verify.
About Frank Addessi
Born and raised in the center of the known universe, Brooklyn NY, and currently hiding out in the bucolic hills of northeast Pennsylvania writing about personal finance. It’s not easy living the American Dream but someone has to do it!