Saturday, 11 November 2017

Leaving money to the Heart Foundation in your will - are you sure? Really?

What people plan to do with money after death is clearly none of my business, but I wonder if they've really put much thought into the value-for-money side of things when deciding to leave money to charities, as opposed to, I don’t know, leaving it to family, friends or their cat.

Maybe I'm just a selfish, self-absorbed pessimist, but my observations tell me that the number of people, businesses and charities asking for money is beyond a joke. It pains my perpetually-oppressed white man sensibilities that I can’t walk into the bloody supermarket without first avoiding eye contact with the smiley young person asking if they can “ask me a quick question”.

Of course that 'quick question', that follows the first question, is nothing of the sort. It’s a scripted monologue about how the kittens with leprosy in Barbados won’t last another brutal West Indian winter without my monthly automatic credit card debits. Or some other vague but altruistic cause for which I’d be a heartless prick to say no to.

The ‘quick question’ eventually comes and it is simply “what is your credit card number?”

Fuck that. Fuck the smiley young person and fuck the cats. Yes, as a matter of fact, I can hear the little kitties screaming and I’ll still sleep very well tonight, thank you very much.

Which brings me to the Heart Foundation. It's my favourite charity. The very name sounds so noble and heroic. So what if their Heart Foundation 'tick program' is a transparently ridiculous sham? They need to charge food companies for it, otherwise they won’t have the funds to conduct research to save our hearts.

Our hearts, damn you!

Heart disease is responsible for more deaths than the US military. You’d be a sociopath to say no to such a wonderful cause. There's just that unfortunate fact that almost everything the HF espouse, is based on a massive pile of stinky, necrotic nonsense. In my opinion.

The Heart Foundation is one of our more well-known charities, operating for many years and with a string of greatest hits including Fat Clogs Your Arteries Like Sludge in Your Sink, Vegetable Oils Make Squeaky Clean Arteries, Salt, Salt, it's all your Fault.

One of the Heart Foundation's converted faithful - who is quite proud to be poisoning their customers

The HF have also formed partnerships with altruistic food companies to spruik wonderful new food stuffs with plant sterols that are no doubt slowly saving the population.

throw away your statins and eat this

a very interesting question

And so people hand over their money and add the foundation to their list of beneficiaries in their will. They participate in HF events like Jump Rope for Heart and MyMarathon. Yes, they even torture themselves to raise money for the cause.

But I have this feeling in my gut that a lot of these people don't really know where that money will end up. Funnily enough, the HF are not shy in telling us.

Is that true? Well, according to the 2016 Annual Financial Statements:

The HF did quite nicely in 2016, with a $22.4 million surplus for the year. They pay no tax of course, and had just under $34 million cash in the bank - as at 31 December 2016.

Of the $64.7 million they received in fund-raising for the year, $44 million was from bequests. 68% of their fund-raising comes from people who leave money in their wills.

That would be a fantastic statistic if you thought the Heart Foundation was spending that money wisely (i.e. good research), but when you consider their consolidated revenue was $81.6 million and $12.33 million (15.1%) was spent on research - it doesn't sound so crash hot. Especially considering they spent $15.5 million on fund-raising. 

Yes, they spent more on fund-raising than they did on research - surely you saw that in the bar graph above? They haven't tried to hide it.

But it gets worse. They spent $27.9 million on health programs. This might be great news if their health programs made sense, and I certainly agree that encouraging people to quit smoking and exercise is a good thing, but their major push in the area of nutrition is a massive counter-productive mountain of bullshit. 

$27.9 million or 43% of fund-raising dollars (or 63% of bequests) goes to funding, in my personal opinion, shit. It's not just a waste of money, it's encouraging people to avoid animal products in favour of sugar (digested carbohydrates) and vegetable oils.

Personally, if I were so inclined to sideline my children in my will, in favour of a bunch of obtuse clowns, I'd like my money to be going into valuable research. I admit to being sceptical about any research the HF consider worthy of investigating, but I was impressed with the microbubble clot busting thing. What else they've contributed to the world of cardiac health, is not so clear.

Rounding this up - I'm not saying we should all hoard our cash and not give it to good causes or those in need. I'm just saying that we should think before handing it over to a massive marketing machine that spends a significant amount of your contribution on their self-interest.

This is the world we live in now, and the HF has a lot to do with it:

Surely life would be so much easier if we all just used butter