Montana Trappers Association

Working Today For a Tomorrow in Trapping.
Furbearers Are A Natural Renewable Resource.

Questions To Ask

Before Donating to 'Charity' Organizations


There are many wonderful charities doing good deeds for people, animals, and the environment and they need the public’s support. There are also quite a few charities that aren’t very effective at what they do, or mislead the public about their activities.


If you are looking to donate money, and you want to feel confident the funds are going to good use, you may want to ask yourself these five questions about a charity before making a donation.



1. What are the primary services they provide?

This should really be the primary reason why you are donating to a charity – because you want to help someone or something. But it is important to know exactly what the charity is doing, especially if it isn’t obvious in the name (or the name is misleading). You may also want to investigate if there are different branches or offices you can donate to. For example, the World Wildlife Fund allows you to donate to help the rhinos, tigers, or other species in need. If you have the choice of directing your funds to a specific project, then be sure to choose the one that is most important to you.


2. Are the programs effective? (And how is effectiveness measured?)

This will require a bit of detective work but asking a charity outright how they measure their successes and whether they deem recent programs to have been successful is a great start.


3. What percentage of the dollar goes to providing the services and programs, versus administration or fund-raising fees?

A good benchmark is 60% – if the charity is spending less than 40% on administration and fund-raising then the charity can be considered to be using its donations effectively.


4. How are they rated?

There are lots of websites rating charities, using different criteria. Two major websites rating charities are Charity Navigator and the AIP’s Web site, Charity Watch (this site requires a $50 per year membership.)


5. What do the press say about them?

A simple online search of your chosen charity can expose you to a lot of positive and negative information about their activities. It’s important to be as objective as possible, which is not always easy. Usually a simple search will help to figure out whether your chosen charity has a good reputation. There are organizations who expose the underhand or misleading activities of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals or The Humane Society of the United States – so if you are considering donating to either of these two charities, you may want to do some research at PETA Kills Animals or Humane Watch, first. Or maybe just donate to your local shelter, instead.


  Forbes: Choosing a charity


  New York Times: How to Choose a Charity Wisely


  Charity Law Information Program: How to decide which charity to support




Did You Know?

Jim Bridger (1804-1881). Trapper, scout, mountain man. One of first white men to see the future Yellowstone Park and Great Salt Lake, which he believed to be an arm of the Pacific Ocean. Became partner of Rocky Mountain Fur Company in 1830 and established Fort Bridger in Wyoming Territory in 1842. Laid out routes for the Central Overland Stage and Pike's Peak Express Company. Returned to Missouri in 1867 where died on his farm on July 17, 1881.


Rendezvous were held on a yearly basis at various locations until 1840, mainly in Wyoming, but Pierre's Hole in Idaho and Bear Lake in northwest Utah were favorite sites as well.


Fort Manuel Lisa was established in 1807 by Manuel Lisa at the mouth of the Big Horn River near Hysham. This was the first permanent settlement in Montana and was occupied until 1811.


John Jacob Astor was the first prominent member of the Astor family and the first multi-millionaire in the US. He amassed his wealth through fur-trading, opium smuggling, and New York City real estate. Famed patron of the arts. At the time of his death, he was the wealthiest person in the US.


In 1919, the Hudson’s Bay Company was approaching its 250th year in business. What began in a coffee house in London, in 1670, had now grown to become the undisputed leader of the international fur trade.


The desire for beaver fur hats in European men’s fashions dates back centuries and spurred the development of the 17th century North American fur trade. Beaver fur was the most prized of the fur trade because of its water repellant qualities. Encouraged by European trade goods, natives hunted beaver to extinction in some areas.