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3 Things to Do BEFORE You Donate to a Charity

Updated on July 10, 2014

Why We Give...Why This Topic

While it's obviously not acted on by all people, it is evident that we humans have not just the capacity to help others, but more importantly, a basic drive to assist those who are less fortunate. The desire is built into us. It's part of what makes us human. It's one of the true beauties of humanity.

Whether we have little or lots -- time, physical abilities, food, funds, furniture, etc. -- we're driven from within to offer whatever we have to those who have less of it.

Unfortunately, there are uncharitable -- that is, unloving -- people in this world who prey on those who want to act on this basic human kindness. While lacking a decent moral compass, these people do not lack cleverness or the ability to pass themselves off as people of light, rather than darkness.

This lens is presented as a simple guide -- three distinct steps -- to help those who want to do GOOD do the most GOOD without lining the pockets of those who spitefully use charities as cloaks for naughty-not-nice sources for their ill-gotten gain.

Thank you for your giving heart!

[Image: Lens host (Guy) with local kids in Ethiopia.]

Step One: Check Your Heart

Your first task -- BEFORE you give -- is to check your heart. Determine why you want to give.

Look into your heart and answer the following:

-- Are you giving so you'll receive praise or will your gift be the fruit of a sincere heart?

-- Do you have motives self-ISH or self-LESS?

-- Would you provide this gift of time, effort, property, or money even if nobody knew?

-- Do you expect something in return?

The point is that giving is best done and most rewarding when it is done from a pure heart. Even in our modern hyper-connected world, it is best if you bless others without fanfare.

Gifts are not very meaningful to either the givers or receivers if they are given under compulsion, because of guilty feelings, or for any other selfish reason.

So, check your heart before you give. If your motives are not pure, then take a few moments or hours or even days to align your heart with the good your gift is intended to achieve. If you do this first, both you and your recipient will be blessed.

Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse It
Toxic Charity: How Churches and Charities Hurt Those They Help, And How to Reverse It

From the Back Cover: "Public service is a way of life for Americans; giving is a part of our national character. But compassionate instincts and generous spirits aren’t enough, says veteran urban activist Robert D. Lupton. In this groundbreaking guide, he reveals the disturbing truth about charity: all too much of it has become toxic, devastating to the very people it’s meant to help."

Lupton goes beyond describing the problem and effectively prescribes a cure.

 
The House That Love Built: The Story of Linda & Millard Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing
The House That Love Built: The Story of Linda & Millard Fuller, Founders of Habitat for Humanity and the Fuller Center for Housing

Not all giving involves cash. You can give your time, too, as demonstrated so well by Habitat for Humanity.

This book tells the sometimes dramatic and always touching story of the global presence known as Habitat for Humanity.

 

Connect with These Charitable Organizations

** These are a few of my favorite giving organizations.

** Be sure to share your favorites before you leave this lens!

Share How and Where YOU Share! - ...What are your favorite opportunities to give and why do they have that special honor?

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    • Guy E Wood profile image
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      Guy E Wood 3 years ago from USA

      @PaigSr: Great comments, PaigSr.

      I'll be adding more selections and recommendations. Do you have any you'd like me to include?

      Thanks for stopping by.

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

      My choice is the Make-A-Wish of all those you have here. I also like the Giving Tree being added. Its amazing how there is giving from places you don't always expect it.

    • Guy E Wood profile image
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      Guy E Wood 3 years ago from USA

      @SusanDeppner: That's a wonderful idea, Susan. Giving locally can provide 2-way blessings to the recipients and those who give. Thank you!

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

      We love to donate to local organizations that take care of people in our area. We see what these organizations do and feel comfortable sharing our blessings with them so they can share with others.

    Step Two: Check the IRS

    While it is important to simply give where it's needed and where you have opportunity, if you're going to give to an organized charity, I recommend that you check first with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

    There are two reasons for this step.

    First, if the charity has registered itself with the IRS and been approved as a charitable organization, it is an indication that the organization is legitimate. Keeping in mind that there even crooks can register with the IRS, it's still important to move on to the third step before you give.

    Second, while I don't for the notion that you should only give if you can write the donation off your taxes, the current tax laws allow for such a deduction, so you may be able to give a bit more knowing that your tax burden may be reduced. [NOTE: I am not a tax professional, so please don't take my word for it. Consult with your tax adviser about any potential tax benefits.]

    With these two considerations in mind, here are a couple places for you to check the charities you're interested in against the IRS database of registered charities.

    A Gallery of Giving - The faces of those who give and receive...

    Click thumbnail to view full-size
    [Photo: JDRF.org] -- 300 volunteers showed how far they'll go for JDRF by completing the JDRF Australia 2013 Jump to Cure Diabetes.[Photo: Wish.org] -- Tracy Lauren (cancer, age 4) wishes to give back comfort and hope.[Photo: Wish.org] -- Louis (Burkitt lymphoma, age 4) wishes to have a military-style playhouse.[Photo: JDRF.org] -- Chef Anne Burrell and sister Jane Burrell-Uzcategui supporting JDRF on the set of Food Network's All Star Family Cook-Off.[Photo: Wish.org] -- Kassaundra (congenital heart condition, age 7) wishes to be music.[Photo: Wish.org] -- Allan (leukemia, age 17) wishes to be a car designer.
    [Photo: JDRF.org] -- 300 volunteers showed how far they'll go for JDRF by completing the JDRF Australia 2013 Jump to Cure Diabetes.
    [Photo: JDRF.org] -- 300 volunteers showed how far they'll go for JDRF by completing the JDRF Australia 2013 Jump to Cure Diabetes.
    [Photo: Wish.org] -- Tracy Lauren (cancer, age 4) wishes to give back comfort and hope.
    [Photo: Wish.org] -- Tracy Lauren (cancer, age 4) wishes to give back comfort and hope.
    [Photo: Wish.org] -- Louis (Burkitt lymphoma, age 4) wishes to have a military-style playhouse.
    [Photo: Wish.org] -- Louis (Burkitt lymphoma, age 4) wishes to have a military-style playhouse.
    [Photo: JDRF.org] -- Chef Anne Burrell and sister Jane Burrell-Uzcategui supporting JDRF on the set of Food Network's All Star Family Cook-Off.
    [Photo: JDRF.org] -- Chef Anne Burrell and sister Jane Burrell-Uzcategui supporting JDRF on the set of Food Network's All Star Family Cook-Off.
    [Photo: Wish.org] -- Kassaundra (congenital heart condition, age 7) wishes to be music.
    [Photo: Wish.org] -- Kassaundra (congenital heart condition, age 7) wishes to be music.
    [Photo: Wish.org] -- Allan (leukemia, age 17) wishes to be a car designer.
    [Photo: Wish.org] -- Allan (leukemia, age 17) wishes to be a car designer.

    Video Tips -- Before You Give

    Not all charities are really charitable. Check out these excellent videos before you pull out your checkbook or hand over your cash. You'll find more on Charity Navigator's YouTube channel.

    You can reduce your tax bite by giving non-cash donations...but be careful to do it the right way.

    Sure, you can donate cash! Here are some things to consider.

    Charity Navigator's President and CEO, Ken Berger, talks about charity CEO pay. Does it matter?

    "Trust is the most precious commodity that a charity has." Ken Berger, President and CEO of Charity Navigator

    Exposing Charity Fraud: The people raising money along the Las Vegas strip aren't exactly what you would think. There's more to this story than meets the eye.

    Your turn: How do you make sure your charities are legitimate? - Thank you for sharing your tips below.

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      • Guy E Wood profile image
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        Guy E Wood 3 years ago from USA

        @PaigSr: You're right on the money, Paig Sr. It's important for us to do our homework before giving, even to organizations that try to pass themselves off as charitable.

      • PaigSr profile image

        PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

        Its sad to say but these days you have to sometimes do research before donating. Having people coming door to door is becoming a thing of the past. Less people these days can be trusted. Sorry world on this one but watching the news there are more and more scams being shown on the evening news.

      • Guy E Wood profile image
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        Guy E Wood 3 years ago from USA

        @SusanDeppner: I appreciate that reminder, Susan. Squidoo is a force for good! Onward...

      • SusanDeppner profile image

        Susan Deppner 3 years ago from Arkansas USA

        Charitable giving is very important here on Squidoo. My Squidoo lenses are set up to donate a portion of their earnings automatically every month. Even just a few cents from hundreds of lensmasters can grow into a significant donation. Writing on Squidoo is a great way to give to qualified organizations!