There are some effective ways to donate to youth interested in space exploration in which a larger portion of what you donate is actually used on the youth.
This is what is sticking in my mind about this SGAC donation campaign: how is the money being used? I can't tell you with much certainty. During the ten months before I quit the Executive Committee, I requested an up-to-date copy of the SGAC financial statement from the executive director. No luck. Several draft copies were offered for feedback, and I did ask questions about debts and expenses that appeared to be missing or in some cases, four-digit expenses that were listed on the draft statement that had not been cleared by the executive committee.
Were any of these questions addressed? No.
Was an updated statement offered? No.
What should this mean to me, that the officer responsible for maintaining the organization refused to answer questions about money he spent?
See a forwarded email below, which I have, to date, received six copies of... the Ron Paul of space advocacy, without the associated money bomb. Maybe I should salute them for having the temerity to ask me--however, I know it is a form email--but I will be keeping my money out of this campaign and offering it to other places where it will be better utilized.
I can think of two examples that will still benefit people that want to attend SGC. I encourage going this route instead of not funding altogether. I will fund youth to go, but in a way that I trust.
First, you can donate directly to a participant that wants to attend. Wait until the delegate selections occur in a few months and offer to give a sponsorship directly to one of them, not through the organization. Else the middleman will take a cut. How can SGC cost 300+ euros when a program of similar duration and scope in the same region (stretching here, but Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu are neighbors) cost less than 10 euros? Think about it. Us Americans might lose a few dollars on a tax writeoff, but instead a delegate will be getting several multiples of what you miss.
Second, you could donate to the international SEDS campaign to send students to SEDSIC/IAC, which is not coincidentally linked to SGC; participants should be able to attend both (I am an SGC "alumnus"). When fellow SEDS alumni and supporters donated money for students to go to India for SEDSIC, all donated money went to the students. 100%. The only money that did not go to students went to Western Union fees--I learned that not all students from all countries could take personal checks--but I covered these fees personally in addition to the other sponsorships. If interested in this, let me know.
I support SGC in principle--the idea of getting youth worldwide together in a single place, provided they accomplish something of value. But it is asinine to think that it will cost 7 to 10 alumni an average of $50 each just to get one of them in the door.
Perhaps next on the agenda of transparency is to more closely analyze how 300+ euros/person could be spent. Surely some goes to scholarships, but after the smallest SGC ever, how much? How much went to manager salary? How much went to funding the manager's trip to India in February? How much of the money raised went to sending a youth to Hyderabad?
You should know where your money goes. Ask questions. This is not the only way to support the youth if you are not satisfied with the answers.
As an alumnus of the Space Generation Congress, we have a special opportunity for you. SGAC has launched its 2008 fundraising campaign and one of the important things we raise money for each year is the Space Generation Congress, taking place next year in Glasgow, Scotland. From 2002 to 2007 nearly 500 young people from around the world have taken part in the congress, including you!
Many of you have told us how important you felt your attendance at SGC was, and so we would like to give you the chance to share that experience with another young person in 2008.
For that, we have set up a special link where you can donate directly to SGC, so that we know exactly how you would like us to use your valuable contribution. To make a contribution, please go to http://spacegeneration.org/donate_sgc
Imagine if the 500 SGC alumni each donated an average of $50 each? That would mean $25,000 could be used to fund nearly 15 full scholarships to the congress. Combine that with corporate funding for SGC and we might be able to have our best attendance ever in 2008.
We look forward to you continued support and contributions to the future of youth in space.