Social Question

12Oaks's avatar

Do you believe that giving to a charity is always a good thing?

Asked by 12Oaks (4033 points ) March 22nd, 2011

Before you think this to be cold or heartless or greedy or anything like that, allow me to elaborate. Today I heard this news story about these Girl Scouts whose cookie money was stolen from them. I may have some numbers wrong (It’s not that important to the story) but it was like $400.00. When the community got wind, many decided to donate back to them totaling about $2,000. The girls, age I don’t know, decided to keep the amount stolen and “donate the rest.” I do find this odd, as The Girl Scouts are a charity themselves.

Anyway, we hear this all the time, somebody “giving to charity,” when a same or similar thing like this happens, but not specifying which. Now, are we all supposed to admire the charitable nature of the givers? Probably. That is a good thing, no doubt. But what if, in a situation like this, the girls end up giving to a charity that is either controversial and you disagree with or one you personally don’t support? If you’re pro-life, you probably wouldn’t celebrate them giving to Planned Parenthood. If you are an Obama supporter, them giving to The Tea Party may make you cringe a touch. Point is, you may at first support them in “giving to charity,” but does the celebration of charity continue if it is a charity that you not only don’t support, but even object to their very existence.

In this case, I see nothing wrong with the girls keeping the money for their Troop. In the case of a Lottery winner, if he decides to keep all the 50 million himself, I personally have no problem with that. I also wouldn’t object him giving to a charity I don’t support, like PETA (I think the treatment of animals should be ethical, yes, but not in the ways they promote) as it is his money to do with what he desires. If he gives to a charity whose main objective is to teach Creationism in public schools, that may spark some further protests by some who already disagree with their mission (And that’s not to spark a debate on that topic). Point I’m trying to make: Do you believe that giving to a charity is always a good thing?

I’ll be happy to address a few things right now.

1) Yes, I do give to charities.
2) No, I will not say to which or how much.
3) ABSOLUTELY NOT, I do not give just for a Tax Deduction. I don’t report charitable donations on my returns because it really isn’t Uncle Sam’s business what I do with my money.

And while I have no idea, I’d bet dollars to donuts that the Girl Scout money went to breast cancer research.

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20 Answers

cak's avatar

Do your homework, before you give. When a charity gives out grants, you can do research to see where they give their money. I used to work with a charity (part) time and helped write grants. One year, the charity voted to give money to an organization that shocked me. From that point on, I was very careful with my money and where it went.

90% of the time, I think a charity is setting out to the do the right thing. The other 10% of the time, it doesn’t mean I think they are out to still money. It just means that I might eye them a little more, before I give.

I do not give just for the tax deduction. I give because I am moved by their actions. I give because it is something I believe in, or that my family believes in.

Coloma's avatar

Once you ‘give’ it’s out of your hands, IF, you wish to be a genuine giver.

Yes, all you can do is research a cause and then make a decision.
After that, you have relinquished all control over your gift.

I prefer to give randomly and spontaneously and don’t research much, I give in the moment and then forget about it.

YARNLADY's avatar

Giving money to a reputable charity, if you can afford it, is always a good thing.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Your point is understandable. This seems like a one-off case, other than those where the money donated for a cause gets watered down behind the scenes. It should be looked at as act of paying it forward and a life lesson for the girls in this particular troop.

Judi's avatar

When my mom died, we listed several of moms favorite charities to give to in lieu of flowers.
A friend of mine, who I knew was a hard core Republican sent me a check made out to Bread for the World.
Being a good friend, I called her before I forwarded the check because they lobby governments to prioritize policy to feed the hungry and take care of the poor. I knew, as a conservative, she may have a different political agenda.
She told me that the gift was about honoring me and my mom and she was happy to give the gift.
Point is, I didn’t think it would be right to mislead her into giving to a charity that might not be what she thought it was. People should be clear where the money is going, and benefactors should ask the questions.

12Oaks's avatar

@Pied_Pfeffer I loved that book, Pay It Forward, a favorite of mine.

Just to make sure it’s understood, I am not objecting to what the girls did. It was very honorable of them and their hearts were surely in the right place. I just used that as an example for what I hoped to be taken for a more generic question about giving and types of charities where donations could be given.

12Oaks's avatar

@Judi Just a point, Conservatives aren’t against feeding hungry and helping the poor.

Judi's avatar

@12Oaks; I know. But this organization lobbies GOVERNMENTS to do it, and most of my conservative friends think that private charities should do that.

12Oaks's avatar

@Judi Thank you for clearing that up. That little nuanced detail is the difference. Seems you both did the right thing.

Not to get too off subject here, but you said something that is now a new point of curiosity. Would you care to share the alternative charity, or mission of charity if you don’t want to name names? If you don’t want to, that’s cool. Just got me all squiggly in curiosity now.

BarnacleBill's avatar

I think that there are things that masquerade as a “charity” but are really a political lobby.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@BarnacleBill

No question about that. I don’t object to anyone contributing their money to anything. It’s their money. I just like to know where mine is going and what it’s going to be used for.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@CaptainHarley, very true. I rarely ask people to donate to things, and if I do, and they don’t, I really could care less. There are people who say that they give to “charity” but in reality they are making political donations. I’m not always sure they realize it. But that’s okay. As my high school social studies/civics teacher said, “When you’re trying to tight-rope walk, you need people pulling on both ends of the rope in order to keep your balance.”

CaptainHarley's avatar

LOL! @BarnacleBill

Your social studies teacher was wise! : )

bkcunningham's avatar

The Girl Scouts is a charity?

Judi's avatar

@12Oaks; it was a Vacation Bible School Scholarship Fund.

BarnacleBill's avatar

According to the Chicago Tribune the girls are giving the money above the $417 to the Red Cross for earthquake relief in Japan.

Their original goal for their money was to pay for a troop rock climbing trip and send cookies to soldiers overseas.

Judi's avatar

FYI you can check out different charities at charitynavigator.com. I stopped giving to Heffer International when I saw how much went to administrative costs.

12Oaks's avatar

@BarnacleBill Thanks for the added information. I heard this yesterday as a news item on the radio, but didn’t get the full details. It wasn’t as important to do with the spirit of the question, but thanks for the follow-up and lettig us know. Appreciate that. :-)

mattbrowne's avatar

Not always. Help for Africa should be help to stimulate self-help. Except when there are natural disasters.

john65pennington's avatar

In 1968, my city was engulfed in a civil riot that almost killed many officers and property damage galore. Working 12 and 16 hour shifts was rough. Dodging bricks and rocks was rough. We went many hours without anything to eat or drink. Then, after two straight days of dodging missiles, the sky parted and down the street came a Salvation Army truck. It looked like an angel on wheels to us. That bologna sandwich and coffee tasted like a steak to us. And of course, they brought doughnuts.

Every since those riots, I have donated money each month to the Salvation Army. That was 41 years ago and I think I have finally repaid my share of those sandwiches and doughnuts the Salvation Armey brought to us.

I could see where my donations were going and I was proud to give my share.

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