Not all charities created equal

SmallBusiness    The Caribou Area Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Recognition Dinner on Thursday, April 16, and it went off beautifully. Our hosts at the Caribou Inn & Convention Center did a perfect job with the meal, the ambiance and the service. It was terrific. And I am very happy with who we honored this year. All recipients certainly deserved recognition and seemed very appreciative.

    The Chamber would like to thank our sponsors for the Annual Recognition Dinner: Griffeth Ford Lincoln, Solman and Hunter, P.A., Katahdin Trust, PenAir and Precision Lawn Services, Inc.
    There are just 10 days left to sign up for the City-Wide Yard Sale taking place May 16 and 17. The deadline is April 30 as we need time to print the maps. I am getting requests for maps to be sent to Millinocket, the Valley and a couple of other places. People come from all over for this grand event. So come on in and sign up today! Don’t miss out!
    My next topic is a little hard to deliver and say what I mean to say. If you are in business in our area, the request for donations is a constant pressure. Businesses get hit several times a day to give for this or that, or advertise here and there. At least half of my calls here at the office are for people either wanting me to advertise in some publication or others looking for a contribution.
    Many of our businesses are on a tight budget. I certainly don’t have a lot of room in my own budget beyond targeted marketing of our area in magazines that make sense. It gets to the point where I dread asking members for sponsorships of our events even though they are great deals with as many eyes as our events reach.
    I have a couple of thoughts here. First, we ask people to shop locally. If that is the case, then we should also ask people to give locally. I am leery of giving to any outside organization or big-name charity without a prospectus on how that money is used and how much of my donation actually goes to the people or research or whatever that charity is supposed to support. Most of the time, when such donations are asked of me, the information is not easily available.
    I would much rather my donations go to something that helps local people. That is one reason I was proud that the Chamber gave the Citizen of the Year award to Bryan Thompson. His fundraiser raised money for Catholic Charities and that fed people right here in our own community.
    I like to help the local Christian radio station, fundraisers for the Caribou Snowmobile Club and I’ll gladly pay $20 for spaghetti dinner tickets when I don’t eat spaghetti because I know that money goes to the local ecumenical food pantry. If I go into a store, I will rarely give to a national organization or agree to add a dollar to my purchase unless they can hand me a sheet with a pie chart of where the money goes.
    But I will put a few coins in the Halfway Home Pet Rescue even though I don’t like cats because I know it helps something local.
    Some have to be considered carefully. United Way and the American Red Cross help people both here and outside of here. The amount of help afforded to County people when needed makes those two go into the positive column.
    My overall point is that, in my opinion (and mine alone), most of our giving should be done to help our local neighbors. If you are fortunate enough to have extra beyond that, then let your heart and head lead you. If businesses also considered this carefully for what fundraisers they want to expose their customers to, then the same questions need to be asked and more research needs to be done as to what those dollars actually do.
    All of this is tough to consider. But something is out of whack when we are bombarded every visit to every store and it is hard for me to get my event sponsored when at least 5,000 people will be reading about it. We ask too much of our local businesses, while, at the same time, our local businesses need to consider more closely how every dollar given either helps the community or helps fill office seats in an office building in Boston.
    That’s my two cents and I hope you have a great week.
    Executive Director William Tasker may be reached in the CACC office at 498-6156 or email him at cacc@cariboumaine.net.