Editorial: Read the fine print on cash asks
President Trump wants your help to contest the election results — or so the emails blasted out to his devoted followers say.
If you read all the way to the end of these messages, though, you learn something else. Sure, some of your donation might help in legal challenges. But 50% to 60% may go toward retiring the president’s outstanding campaign debts. That’s right, you might actually be picking up the tab for some of Trump's rallies or TV ad purchases.
It’s a truism by this point, but it’s most assuredly correct: Read that fine print.
Another good example are the ubiquitous GoFundMe campaigns you see popping up throughout social media. There’s almost always one going along with the latest viral video or news story. Help this person who has suffered a great catastrophe or indignity, they say.
These are appealing stories! You might be tempted to open your wallet, virtually as it may be. But it’s worth reading the actual funding page. Who is collecting the funds? Is it actually the person being affected or someone who claims to know them? What guarantees do you have that the money will actually reach the expected person and do what it’s supposed to do?
We wish we didn’t have to make these admonitions. We wish that politicians were always honest and that people were always good. But unfortunately that’s simply not the case.
This isn’t something done solely by one side or the other, in one era or another. Political campaigns are notorious for raising money through blaring messages that promise one thing — while spending the money on something else. And hucksters throughout history have been on the lookout for an easy mark.
If you have money to spare, perhaps this doesn’t matter. Give what you want, to whom you want, and don’t give it a second thought. The rest of us care a great deal, especially during these uncertain times, about helping those who can truly use our assistance.
You can find useful tools online that help you navigate worthy nonprofits, and political solicitations have to ultimately tell you where that money goes. The resources are there.
So don’t let your emotions run away with you. Take a moment to read and reflect. Are you comfortable with supporting this cause in this amount? If so, give away! If not, possibly look elsewhere — perhaps within your community — for ways to help those in need.