Do it for the kids


It’s that time of year. Charities are calling on us to remember the kids. One of the most compelling cries is, “Do it for the kids!” Too many of us respond mindlessly in a knee-jerk way.

When you give, do you know to what you are giving? Has the purpose and extent of the need been outlined?

Consider the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon. Raising money in the millions for participating hospitals seems like a good thing — doesn’t it? Yet is our charity needed?

Before giving, one should compare the proceeds from the telethon to the recipient hospital’s bottom line. Does a large, profitable health system, such as Spectrum Health, need our charity to pay for things it simply doesn’t have the money for? Is your gift going straight to the hospital’s bottom line? Are a hospital’s profits far greater than the amount it takes in from the telethon?

If it already makes enough profit to be able to do anything that charitable dollars might have done but is saying the charity allows it to do things it might not otherwise have done, it is saying that it considered such things and decided not to fund them with its own money. Weren’t they important enough?

Additionally, if the hospital charges insurance companies for all patient care, and expects co-pays and deductibles to be paid, why is the charity needed? Although there is some charity care being provided for some without insurance, this is not a major factor since the Affordable Care Act provided a windfall to most hospitals in terms of additional patients with some insurance coverage.

Rather than contribute to a hospital’s profits, one might consider other ways to more effectively contribute money to directly benefit kids. There are many charities that can use your contributions to directly benefit those in need. To start, one might consider a gift to a community foundation that can allocate funds as needed. The Grand Rapids Community Foundation is an excellent example of an organization that has the flexibility to provide funds where they are truly needed.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation comes to mind as a way to provide direct help for a child for something that easily might not be possible otherwise. It makes it possible for children with critical illnesses to realize a dear wish, and I am informed this often can be extremely beneficial for the child’s health.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has locations in Tennessee, Illinois and Indiana that serve children in need of hospitalization. No family ever receives a bill because the donations the organization receives are enough to cover the costs of care.

Twenty-two Shriners Hospitals for Children are located around the nation, with the nearest being in Chicago. Although a patient’s insurance company receives a bill, there is no charge for those without insurance and there are no bills for insurance deductibles and co-pays.

Please consider where your gifts go and whether they’re needed. There is too much need in the world to waste our limited funds.

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