Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Where Should I Donate My Hair?


My hair length varies, as I tend to only cut it 2 or 3 times a year, but mostly it goes between a chin-length bob and just above my shoulders. A couple years ago, though, I decided to grow it out (1) just for fun, since I feel like I'm approaching the age where super long hair makes you look older than you are, and (2) to donate to an organization that provides wigs to sick children. I'm planning to chop it off sometime soon after the marathon.

The organization I'd often heard of, for many years, that does that is Locks of Love. There were occasional negative reviews of them, though, and I have to admit that the larger and more well-known a nonprofit is, the more suspicious I am that they might not be the most efficient stewards of resources. More recently I started hearing about Beautiful Lengths as another option for donating hair - but they're a program run by Pantene, which makes me very uncertain about their charitable intentions.

After some searching, it looks like the following five organizations are options for donating hair. I've summarized some information based on the charitable-ness of the organization and the requirements for donating hair. This information is from each respective organization's website, Charity Navigator, and the organizations' Forms 990 available via GuideStar. It is accurate to the best of my knowledge as of September 2013.


Locks of Love

Charitable status: 501(c)(3)
Charity Navigator rating: 57.03 out of 70
Highest paid employee: $62,183 - general manager. All other officers and board members listed are unpaid.

Charitable beneficiaries: Children under 21, with hair loss from any medical condition
Cost of beneficiaries: Free or sliding scale, depending on family's need

Length required to donate: 10 inches
Can you donate:
Gray hair - Yes, but it will be sold to cover expenses, not included in a child's wig
Chemically processed hair - Yes, except for bleached hair
Layered hair - Yes, if some pieces are shorter than the minimum they will be sold to cover expenses

Other notes: 
In their FAQ, they answer the question "Is my hair donation tax deductible?" with "Please check with your tax preparer." While that is normally a suitable answer for any tax-related question, in this case it's stupid, because the correct answer is that DONATING YOUR HAIR IS NEVER TAX DEDUCTIBLE. 

If you have costs incurred only because you donated your hair, those might be (like postage to mail it, and the hair tie that will be sent to them holding your ponytail) (but please, check with your tax preparer), but you don't have any basis in your hair, so it's not going to be tax deductible. The costs related to donating your hair that aren't being incurred solely because of the donation (hair care products, hair cut) are almost certainly personal expenses that are not deductible.

However, they do provide a lot of information on their website about the donation program. Most of the negative reviews I've seen of the organization appear to be due to people not reading information that was readily available.

Pantene Beautiful Lengths

Charitable status: Beautiful Lengths is a partnership between Pantene (a for-profit company), and the American Cancer Society (ACS) which is a 501(c)(3)
Charity Navigator rating (of ACS): 46.75 out of 70
Highest paid employee (of ACS): $831,855 - CEO. 11 other officers/directors are also paid more than $300,000.

Charitable beneficiaries: Women with cancer
Cost to beneficiaries: Unclear. It appears that Pantene invests money in making wigs out of donations, and then donates the wigs to ACS, which then distributes the wigs to those in need. It implies that the ACS wig bank provides them for free, but I couldn't find information to confirm this.

Length required to donate: 8 inches
Can you donate:
Gray hair - No more than 5% gray
Chemically processed hair - No
Layered hair - No, the shortest layers should meet the minimum length

Other notes:
I think their "pony up" campaign is obnoxious.

Although I don't think the 6-figure salaries for the ACS's officers are completely outrageous (they are responsible for running a very large organization, after all), they're a bit higher than I'm quite comfortable donating to.

Wigs for Kids

Charitable status: 501(c)(3)
Charity Navigator rating: n/a - not rated because less than $1 million in revenue
Highest paid employee: $29,077 - executive director. All other officers and board members listed are unpaid.

Charitable beneficiaries: Children age 18 or younger, with hair loss from any medical condition
Cost to beneficiaries: Free

Length required to donate: 12 inches
Can you donate:
Gray hair - Yes
Chemically processed hair - No
Layered hair - Unclear, appears that all pieces must meet minimum length

Children with Hair Loss

Charitable status: 501(c)(3)
Charity Navigator rating: n/a - not rated because less than $1 million in revenue
Highest paid employee: $36,400 - chairman. All other officers and board members listed are unpaid.

Charitable beneficiaries: Children under 21, with hair loss from any medical condition
Cost to beneficiaries: Free

Length required to donate: 8 inches
Can you donate:
Gray hair - Yes
Chemically processed hair - Yes, if in good condition, but not preferred
Layered hair - Unclear, appears that all pieces must meet minimum length

Childhood Leukemia Foundation

Charitable status: 501(c)(3)
Charity Navigator rating: 20.25 out of 70 (eek!)
Highest paid employee: $154,111 - executive director. All other officers and board members listed are unpaid.

Charitable beneficiaries: Children with cancer
Cost to beneficiaries: Unclear

Length required to donate: 10 inches
Can you donate:
Gray hair - Unclear, not addressed
Chemically processed hair - No
Layered hair - Unclear, appears that all pieces must meet minimum length

Other notes:
There isn't very much information available on the organization's website about the hair donation program, how the hair is used, who benefits from it, etc. Granted, this is just a small part of what the organization does (unlike the others who specialize in it), but the single web page about it was just very underwhelming.

In this case I think the low-6-figures salary is fairly reasonable for the primary officer in charge of a large organization.

My choice

I've ruled out Beautiful Lengths because of its for-profit association and annoying marketing campaign, and the Childhood Leukemia Foundation because of its low charity rating and lack of information. My hair isn't long enough for Wigs for Kids 12-inch requirement (I have about 10 inches to cut off and still have my chin-length bob left).

That leaves Locks of Love and Children with Hair Loss, and I'm leaning towards the latter, mostly just based on gut feeling and that it's a smaller organization. 

Update: I ended up donating to CWHL. See post about it here

Do you have experience with any of these organizations? Who would you recommend donating to?

11 comments:

  1. Last year, I joined a donate-for-a-cause like this and I donated 12 inches hair. I didn't regret it because I knew that there are children charities will receive funds for their beneficiaries. I want to be a part again of this charitable activity.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That's so nice that you decided to donate your hair! (i'm a little late with this comment, I just saw the link to this post show up on your latest post haha)

    Locks of Love is a client at the agency I work for (we donate time/services to them). I'm really appreciate that you took the time to really research why people shared negative reviews about them. It's so frustrating that false information has been circulated and that a good number of people take this information as fact.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you for the detailed yet concise information! I think we will also go with CWHL for my daughter's hair donation.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you so much for this information! We will be choosing CWHL for my 4yr old's hair donation.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Above Information is really informative about donation in NGO,Society,Trust etc.Thanks for sharing valuable information, I hope share some other usable article keep it up.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This is very educational content and written well for a change. It's nice to see that some people still understand how to write a quality post!
    plauku kaukes

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for for your comprehensive research! My son has been growing out his hair for donation to honor the memory of his mom. The number of organizations is large, and their effectiveness is somewhat cloudy. Again thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi fellas,
    Thank you so much for this wonderful article really!
    If someone want to read more about that global vpn project I think this is the right place for you!

    ReplyDelete

Please join in the conversation!

Please note: Although I'm trying to keep the commenting as wide open as possible and not requiring logging in to one of the profile options, there have been reports of glitches and comments disappearing while trying to post under the Anonymous option. I would recommend logging in if you have one of the profiles, or at least copying your comment to paste back in if something goes haywire.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...