In the financial world, the term “charitable donation” is often associated with the tax write-off it provides. But besides that added perk, there are hopefully other reasons you choose to donate to charities.
The number one reason, in my opinion, should be the desire to forward a cause you personally believe in.
What better way to use your hard-earned money than to play a personal role in helping a cause close to your heart? Everything costs money, and most non-profit organizations rely heavily on donations.
What I want to address in this post, however, is why some people choose not to give.
I want to believe that not many people are penny-pinching or non-caring — because, frankly, that’s depressing. I think there may be other reasons people aren’t giving, and I want to address some of them here.
My hope is that, after reading this, those of you who don’t give yet will feel more motivated or more interested in doing so.
1. You don’t trust the integrity of charitable organizations
This is totally understandable, considering the number of scams that are exposed each year. As with anything, there are both good and bad organizations — you just have to be careful in your selection.
Just because there are some dubious organizations out there asking for money doesn’t mean there aren’t also legitimate ones that need your help. All that’s required is a little research. Any reputable organization will have a track record of projects they’ve completed, real testimonials, and proof of financial responsibility. Charity Navigator is a great place to start. If you can’t find any information, or don’t know anyone involved with the charity, it’s best to steer clear until you have more information.
2. You don’t think your donations actually get spent on what they’re supposed to
This is also a legitimate concern. You might donate to a charity for years before reading the small print that says only a small portion of your donation actually goes toward the charity — while the rest is for “operating expenses.” This is why it’s essential to find out up front what each dollar you donate is actually doing.
That being said, even non-profits have expenses. A portion of your donation may go toward supporting the organization itself, which in turn accomplishes the things you want your money to fund. If the amount of money going toward operating expenses seems disproportionate, it probably is. Also, if an organization can’t tell you what your money is doing, you have the right to be suspicious. As long as you get clear information from the charity before donating, you should be set.
3. You don’t have an affinity with larger charitable organizations
It’s important to give to causes you can relate to and feel passionate about. The United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, and American Cancer Society are reputable non-profits you’ve probably seen fundraisers for. They’re so well known that some employers offer the option of donating to them through payroll deductions. These organizations do good things, and a large number of people feel comfortable donating to them. But maybe you don’t feel drawn to the causes they support — and that’s okay.
You don’t have to donate to a large non-profit to participate in giving.
Maybe you have a heart for sponsoring a poor child in another country, or perhaps you want to support your local animal shelter, community center, or soup kitchen. However you give, make sure you’re able to see the tangible results of your money.
If you still have reasons not to give, or if you simply can’t afford it, you can always donate your time. Many organizations are desperate for volunteers and would welcome any support you can offer. This type of giving will have a lasting impact on your life, as you form relationships and participate directly in supporting your favorite causes.
What other reasons might people have for not giving? Do you think charitable donations are important?