Charity Salaries

Commentary by Dr. Gerhard Falk


American Charity

Nothing is so commonly believed among us than the opinion that we are indeed a charitable people who live by the commandment to help the poor. The evidence is that the Jewish community is indeed most charitable, in that we collect more money per donor than any other ethnic group in this country.

If that is indeed the case, we need to explain how it is that in New York City one third of all Jews live either below or near the poverty line as defined by the Department of Health and Human Services. Surely, the money contributed to the innumerable welfare organizations must have gone somewhere, as it evidently does not go to those who need it the most.

Therefore we are advised to take a look at Charity Navigator, a web site which reveals the salaries paid to executives of just about all social service organizations in this country. According to that objective report, the CEO of the New York Community Trust is paid $828,804 a year. Consider that the President of the United States earns $400,000 to run the whole country. That, however, is “chicken feed” when compared to the $3,151,000 paid to the CEO of the United Jewish Appeal in New York. How many of the poor could eat how many meals if the UJA boss was paid only $1 million and the other two million went to those who have no food? Of course, there are such “poor” CEO’s as the Cleveland, Ohio UJA executive who has to live on “only” $722,061, or the Chicago UJA boss who gets $466,968. Remember that each of these greedy charity administrators have associate executives, assistant executives, department heads, etc. etc. etc. The truth it that if you give money to any of these charity manipulators, those who are truly in need get nothing. Consider that the CEO of the Red Cross “earns” $591,122 and a nursing home administrator makes $1,680,000. That nursing home will not admit anyone unable to pay $180,000 a year. So the next time you are asked to contribute to a “charity” go to Charity Navigator and see if you are giving your money to a millionaire who has more money than you will ever see in a lifetime.

This situation has two causes. One of these was the entrance of government into the charity process. This began with the Roosevelt administration in the 1930’s. Because of the Great Depression, Congress passed much legislation establishing innumerable agencies with fancy names designed to help the unemployed. The first was the Social Security Administration, followed by a host of  other bureaucracies over the years. As these agencies multiplied and served the old, the sick, the blind, children, the unemployed, and the poor, private agencies had money with which to pay salaries to professional social workers. These professionals were graduates of universities, which began to offer the M.S.W. degree in the late 1930’s. There was no B.A. degree in social work until the end of the ‘80’s.

While politicians, organized crime, religious groups, and private citizens helped the needy before government entered the arena, this support now fell away. Professional agencies hired graduate social workers and appointed “executive directors” and other sycophants. The Greek word “sycophant” means “fig  shower.” It refers to the servants of wealthy people in ancient Greece who had a man hold a large fig leaf over the head of his employer so as to guard him from the heat of the sun. Later, this word came to mean any employee or other person who kowtows to wealthy women or men.

As professional social work developed, the executive directors recognized that they could benefit greatly by bringing to the board of directors rich people who would increase their salaries if properly praised and lauded. A reciprocal relationship developed between rich trustees and “executives.” The CEO’s flattered the rich board members by announcing the virtues of the trustee publicly. Printed brochures, public speeches, dinners and other methods became vehicles for the enhancement of the reputations of the Croesus at hand. The rich were told that they were the very embodiment of kindness, achievement, wisdom and philanthropy (lover of men). In return, the board members, impressed by the praise they received, increased the salaries of the sycophants.

The income of social workers is poor. However, executives may well be paid $3.5 million, or at least $800,000. Evidently, every boss has several assistants who earn less but nevertheless collect proportionate salaries. Surely, someone paid several million a year would pay his immediate subordinate at least half of his own income. So a $600,000 boss with two assistants would pay another $600,000 to them at $300,000 each. These department heads etc. also have assistants who are paid large sums.

Indeed, the average social worker who actually interacts with “clients” gets little for his efforts. Furthermore, such social workers experience that helping the poor is of no use to them. They recognize that political acumen pays well, and so they too try to become an administrator and make money.

The outcome of all this is that those in need get nothing or next to nothing because there is nothing left after all the “big shots” are paid.

The administrators of these bureaucracies never see a “client.” They spend all their time rushing from meeting to meeting, “feathering their nest.”

Therefore it is important that those who wish to be of help by contributing to an “agency” look up the salaries paid for that agency on Charity Navigator.

Meanwhile it is best to help the needy by giving them a supply of food, clothing and money directly into their hand.  Better yet, send a money order without your name; put a carton full of food on their doorstep at night and leave no name; give money to a clergyman to be passed on to a needy person who will never know where it came from. Go to a food bank and deliver groceries. Do all of this and fulfill the commandment in Isaiah 58:7 to feed the hungry and clothe the naked.

Shalom u’vracha.

Dr. Gerhard Falk is the author of numerous publications, including The German Jews in America (2014).

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