Tell me about your favorite charity

I’m probably going to get in trouble for even bringing this up, but the youngest and I had quite an argument last night over her willingness to fork over her money to buy stuff from a charity group that’s become a big part of the high school scene at East. Invisible Children has done a heck of a job marketing to teens with loads of disposable income. I argue the organization’s tactic amounts to the use of peer pressure for fund raising. I also spent some time on the internet researching the group’s 990 and annual statement which didn’t look as good as she was being told. Very little of the cash collected makes it to the group’s Uganda work.

All of last night’s discussion reminded me how the youngest hasn’t had the real world exposure the other two know. While the older children get a hefty dose of the homeless population on a daily basis (one lives a block from the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, the other above Walgreens on State Street in Madison where there are several street people he knows) she’s not much exposed to real need.

Which started me thinking – what are the better local charities out there? We do most of our giving to umbrella organizations like United Way or Catholic Charities and I haven’t kept up with what’s happening in the not-for-profit organizations they support.

Your help is much appreciated.


  1. I don’t have a single favorite. We give to umbrella groups, as you do, and to some specific groups like the Rescue Mission or The Gathering. I am especially fond, though, of charities that tend to start a chain of good works, like Habitat for Humanity and Heifer International. If you aren’t familiar with Heifer, they give animals (everything from Bees to Water Buffalos) to families so they can become self-sufficient, and those families return a portion of the off-spring, say a calf or a lamb, to be passed on to another family. I’m also interested in micro-lending–charities that make small private loans (often to women) so that people can start a small business and support their families. These are loans too small to be worth a bank’s time, but the results are an improved quality of life for the borrower’s family, and the repayment rates of the loans are remarkably high. Once people get their feet under them, they do well.

  2. I’m very fond of the concept of micro-lending, too. Does Heifer micro lend or are you thinking of someone else?

  3. No, I don’t think they micro-lend, but you can choose the kind of animal you want to purchase.

    Micro-lending is fairly new to me. We have given to FINCA. I understand, though, that some organizations will let you choose EXACTLY who/what you support.

  4. I worked at the Waukesha Food Pantry all through high school. I also sat on the board for a few years too. I know that they are a great local organization. The director Karen is an amazing woman who is really dedicated. I also sponsor a child through Compassion International, which is a Christian based organization. When I was in NHS we did a project with Heifer International too which was neat. UNICEF is the other big name I know of that does a pretty good job with wide-reaching programs.

  5. The money that doesn’t go to Uganda definitely doesn’t go to further campaigning in order to raise more money.
    All organizations have costs.

  6. Well, that’s certainly not the way I read their report. All organizations have costs, but I don’t prefer to support organizations that let less than a third of their fund raising make it to their program.

  7. Don Quixote says:

    I can’t believe anyone would bash an organization that sends any money at all to Africa.
    I can’t believe someone would take the good natured heart of their youngest and claim its not real, its peer pressure.

  8. I’m not bashing Invisible Children. I am waving a caution flag that it may not be as benevolent as it seems. And frankly, there are plenty of places in the Greater Milwaukee area that can use the help as much as Africa.

    There’s not a problem with the merchandise they sell as long as you know that purchase is primarily supporting the organization and not the organization’s stated mission. It amounts to little more than buying a pair of name-branded jeans at that point.

  9. The Brookfield Junior Woman’s Club is a local service organization dedicated to helping the women, children and families of Brookfield and its surrounding communities. Their website is

    One of the club’s projects is Juniors Care for Kids, which provides various forms of assistance to Waukesha County children who have needs not addressed by typical programs.

    The BJWC also sponsors a number of annual events that have become a tradition in Brookfield over the years. Specifically, the Brookfield Easter Egg Hunt, Brookfield Spelling Bee, Elmbrook Art Show and Safety Town. In addition to providing monthly support to other local charities (e.g. New Berlin Food Pantry, U.S. Armed Forces, Children’s Hospital, etc.), the women of the BJWC sponsor an annual holiday dinner for the residents at Jordan House.

    Please look for events sponsored by the BJWC, and consider lending your financial support!

  10. The Lorax says:

    I have to agree with Cindy on this one. Someone figured out that there is a wellspring of rich kids with nothing to do but splurge on merchandise.