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Put money where it counts

Do you ever get tired of getting tapped for donations to worthy causes?

There are a million of them, and most of them really do need private donations. It is hard to say no to the American Red Cross, African AIDS Relief, the Boy Scouts, or the United Way.

Where does a person draw the line? A person or business can only give so much to so many causes before they can no longer pay the light bill. I think a person should donate what they can to the causes with whom they most closely identify.

Regular readers of my column will know I lean toward the outdoors interests, believe in conservation and like to hunt and fish. There are several organizations I support because of what they do in general more than what they do for me.

I like Ducks Unlimited for the fact they create habitat areas that increase many types of wildlife, including ducks. I am not a duck hunter, but a wide range of animals benefit from the prairie pothole program and some other habitat areas they fund. They are one of the oldest conservation programs and can point to years of success in improving our world.

Pheasants Forever is a particularly favorite organization of mine. I give to Pheasants Forever, generally in two counties, because the money raised in those counties, stays in those counties. I no longer hunt pheasants, a sport I greatly enjoy. Because of the change in habitat in our area, we no longer have a pheasant population to hunt. I hope to be part of the change in that. Money raised by local chapters is put back into the local area for food plots, nesting areas, or winter cover.

Unlike Ducks Unlimited, where a large amount of their money raised goes to Canada or southern states, I can drive out and see what my dollars are doing in pheasants forever.

It is a good thing to improve the duck hatch and water quality in Canada as we are all affected downstream, but there is a certain amount of satisfaction in seeing my dollars at work. Seed or trees may be purchased from the local suppliers or many times they are donated. Labor for planting is donated and local farmers provide the land for the conservation use. Hundreds of acres of habitat can be created with very few dollars and a whole lot of donated time. These habitat areas provide food for pheasants to winter over, and the cooperating farmer may open them to hunting if they choose. The conservation lands also provide food and cover for such diverse things as song birds, butterflies, deer and turkey.

Everyone has their own interests and there are many conservation-minded organizations. Some I agree with and some I do not. Organizations such as the Sierra Club are very well known, well funded and conservation minded. They are also against hunting and anti-gun. The Nature Conservancy uses donated money to buy land that is used in conservation practices. They do a tremendous job of protecting and improving habitat, but at what cost. The land is taken off the tax rolls and hunting is restricted.

I know I am biased and there are an almost unlimited number of organizations that deserve our donations. I research the organizations that solicit me and try to find the best fit. I recommend everyone do the same. We need to know the organization we give to is doing something we want done.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.