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DWASARI: Before donating to charities, demand more transparency

Column: Cut the Bull

While donating to charities is important, we need to make sure our money actually helps people and advocate for a more transparent process.  – Photo by Sharon McCutcheon / Unsplash

Many Rutgers students are going through their Instagram feeds, looking at different bingo boards to fund humanitarian efforts in Ukraine and different organizations participating in Rutgers University Dance Marathon. Seeing these boards for years, I have only donated or got donations from my friends due to skepticism of if my money would reach where it should go.

To be fair, my $5 will not make a groundbreaking difference for any cause, but these are not the only donations made in large-scale initiatives.

When I was younger, I would always see high-net worth individuals donating millions or hundreds of thousands of dollars for various humanitarian crises throughout the world. Now that I am older, it is odd to see that problems have been exacerbated when there were adequate funds to curb the issues.

I am not going to baselessly proclaim that the money is being laundered or used for different purposes, but I know there is a lack of information on where the money goes after a donation is made. World hunger has been an issue before modern civilizations were developed and organizations like UNICEF have spearheaded campaigns for it. Every year, this problem seems to get worse rather than better. 

While unrelated factors to fundraising — such as population growth — can cause an increase in world hunger to exist, the amount of money that is apparently raised should effectively counter these factors.

Sitting down with family and friends, they say the same thing. Whenever we donate money via the Red Cross or various organizations, there is no contact or follow-up conversations about our money's impact. If anything, it is vague.

The distrust that many other people and I see in these fundraising efforts and the lack of transparency from the organizations has crippled our ability to solve various crises in the world. Unlike many of the fundraising issues, mending the lack of communication between charities and donors can easily be solved.

Clear communication is what solves the issue. Many people do not know that various fees need to be met along the way before they reach their target destination. Rather than purposefully not include the fact that these fees exist, they should detail out (through their website or emails) where each of the dollars that are donated go specifically.

While it is not optimal that all the cash does not go directly to the cause that it is intended, there will be more trust in the system and greater funds if community service organizations prided themselves on clarity.

By human nature, we tend to speculate when there is no comprehensive information to work with. Maybe the rich people of the world who donate large sums of money are making a positive impact, but we would never know until we see it firsthand.

Taking simple pictures of transferred funds or the goods and services purchased due to fundraising does not expend much effort. In the end, that creates an opportunity for future donations due to the positive appeal it would bring for charitable actions.

Even though the fundraising done on the college level does not amount to the impact of larger-scale organizations, creating a trend in which information is translated clearly could go a long way. This new method could transpire from one college to another, forcing large organizations to adopt such a philosophy.

Breaking down the barrier between solving or mitigating world crises lies in one thing: transparency. Rather than allowing speculation to build up, we need to provide as much information as possible from the charity's side to promote a greater turnout for charitable work across our campus and for all people.

Akhil Dwasari is a Rutgers Business School sophomore majoring in finance and minoring in political science. His column, "Cut the Bull," runs on alternate Tuesdays. 

*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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