CHARITY U.S.A.: An Investigation into the Hidden World of the Multi-Billion Dollar Charity Industry by Carl Bakal

CHARITY U.S.A.: An Investigation into the Hidden World of the Multi-Billion Dollar Charity Industry

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fraud, deception, inefficiency, complacency, and greed are not even the worst faults that Bakal uncovers in his expos‚ of the hundred billion dollar charity industry, but each is plentifully documented--from the 90 percent fund-raising costs of the unsolicited key chain in the mail, to the four-dollar-per-month prayer insurance called ""God's Gold Book Plan."" More important are the chaotic system of choosing our national priorities, the questionable effectiveness of voluntarist agencies in dealing with huge issues, and whether such charities should exist at all in a modern society. Should heart disease, which in polio's worst year killed two hundred times as many people, receive only one sixth the contributions? Can private health agencies that pay for only two percent of medical research be said to ""conquer disease?"" Bakal examines every aspect of the field from the donors (the working class gives proportionately more than the rich) to the donees (religious organizations get three times as much as health and hospitals). In an almost reference-book manner, Bakal mentions some four hundred philanthropic organizations (including the NAACP, ACLU, Common Cause), and describes the work and the worth of all the important ones. Cited along the way are hundreds of scandals, of varying shape and size, which he has discovered through research and personal experience. (There are also many irrelevant asides on the ethics of gambling or the history of the Seeing Eye.) After the case studies, Bakal turns to the techniques of fund raising (never show an adult on a poster) and the organization of campaigns (how your name gets on mailing lists). Finally he provides detailed advice on how to give wisely and advantageously, as well as on how charity should be reformed (by merger, full disclosure, continued government surveillance). This book is a guide for the giver, evidence for the cynic, and, inescapably, a cache of dirty tricks for the taker.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Times Books