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I don’t give to charity because…. debunked

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I’m a big fan of giving to charity. Obviously I’m not sufficiently organised to do this in any other way than automatically, so I’ve got some direct debits set up to my favourite charities. Not everyone donates though, and when called on this, they usually cite some dubious excuse. I’m going to go through a few of these and explain why they don’t stand up to the cold light of day.

1. I don’t believe in charities

Honestly? I can assure you that charities do in fact exist. Here’s a list:

  • oxfam
  • greenpeace
  • cancer research uk
  • great ormond street hospital children’s charity
  • medecins sans frontieres
  • shelter
  • PETA

2. Charities waste a lot of money

All charities have to spend some money on running themselves. Telephone bills and stamps don’t pay for themselves. And with the biggest charities, volunteer work may only go so far. It’s quite difficult to find people willing to volunteer full time, but you can find people willing to work full time for very reasonable wages. Some charities do spend too much on adminstration, but it’s really a very small number.

3. I don’t have very much money

It’s unlikely that you don’t have enough money to give away a little. Plan for it. Cut back on one luxury a month. If you are reading this, you are privileged to have access to the internet. You can afford to give to charity. If you really, really, really can’t find the room in your budget, give time, donate clothes to the charity shop or food to the soup kitchen, or try to persuade your employer to donate.

4. I can’t find a cause that I like

You haven’t looked hard enough. Seriously, there’s a charity for every cause. In fact there are charities for diametrically opposed causes. So you don’t want to support the military, there are charities that work for world peace. So you think that atheists have got it all wrong, there are charities that try to convert the unchurched. You can donate to support capitalism for heaven’s sake.

5. I’m too lazy

As a deeply lazy person myself, I have to say that this is possibly the worst excuse yet. Walk through any shopping street and you’ll probably find yourself accidentally signed up for a direct debit scheme with a charity that you’ve never heard of. Make it automatic. If you can’t be bothered to think of a charity to donate to, click on this link, which will take you to one of my favourites and donate there.

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42 comments for “I don’t give to charity because…. debunked”

  1. And Charity Navigator can help you rate American-based charities (because they use tax forms) regarding their overhead and whatnot. :) So it’s not even like you can’t work around #2. They’ll all spend money but you can pick one that spends less.

    Like Oxfam America spends 4.8% on administration and 16% on fundraising. The latter seems a bit high to me, but they raise a lot of money and do a lot of good with the 80% that goes to programs!

    Posted by Mrs. Micah | November 21, 2007, 12:11 pm
  2. I have been flaky with charity this year. I like your idea of setting up regular contribution. This way, I don’t miss as much as giving away one big chunk.

    Posted by Pinyo | November 21, 2007, 4:45 pm
  3. I’ll admit it, I’ve probably used all of these excuses at some point, and am not a massive giver to charity. We tend to have various fund raising events at work, and that’s when I’ll donate a bit of cash.

    There’s always the lottery too ;>)

    Posted by Rob Lewis | November 21, 2007, 4:58 pm
  4. I just dont like those mainstream charities. Especially after that buy a goat for a family programme.

    I would rather donate to people like the Acumen fund.

    Posted by JohnofScribbleSheet | November 22, 2007, 11:55 am
  5. Well the beauty of it is, that you don’t have to donate to a mainstream charity if you don’t want to - give to something else. Its about giving to causes that you think are important.

    Posted by plonkee | November 22, 2007, 2:05 pm
  6. Excellent post, Plonkee. Hopefully it’ll get a lot of people (myself included) off their butts and considering what issues and causes mean something to them.

    Posted by Fecundity | November 22, 2007, 6:20 pm
  7. Nice post. I’ve recently cancelled one of my direct debits, but mainly because I’ve moved out of the direct geographic area of influence for that specific charity.

    If my monthly giving goes down, I also make a point of contributing time - we’re a bit brassic at the moment, but on Saturday my husband is playing a free gig in aid of Marie Curie Cancer Care. I’m catering and selling tickets for the event, which doesn’t impact on my monthly budget, but does help to reel in the cash for MCCC.

    Posted by Annie | November 22, 2007, 8:25 pm
  8. 2. Charities waste a lot of money - Well, I was a disaster case worker for the American Red Cross after Hurricane Andrew, and can assure you that many charities do waste money.

    I don’t think that a catered Halloween party with a full service bar is what people have in mind when they donated their money. (Just one example.)

    Sure these charities do great work, but there is an incredible amount of waste.

    That is why I think it is important to research any charity you want to give to. I also am a firm believer in donating my time.

    Posted by Krista | November 25, 2007, 4:56 pm
  9. would you reconmend contribuity to a charity while still in debt?

    Posted by mike | November 26, 2007, 9:33 pm
  10. I recommend contributing to charity whilst dealing with debt for selfish purposes, it will probably make you feel better.

    I recommend contributing to charity whilst dealing with debt because if you can afford a haircut, or to shop for anything, you can afford to give a little money away.

    I recommend contributing to charity whilst dealing with debt because it puts you in the habit of doing good things.

    Posted by plonkee | November 26, 2007, 11:59 pm
  11. Number 3 had a good point. If you don’t have the money, then give some of your time. Many charities wish they had more volunteers for their projects and a helping hand is greatly appreciated.

    I can assure you that even if you can give a one day a month, it will be appreciated and you’ll feel so much better for helping others.

    Posted by Laura | November 27, 2007, 4:38 pm
  12. I’m curious if your research or experience found that if people could set up some type of automatic debit for ongoing contributions that they would be more inclined to give. If so what percentage do you think this represents? I think this fits me.

    p.s How did you set up these direct debits?

    Posted by Judge Baity | February 28, 2008, 5:01 pm
  13. Anecdotal evidence would suggest that once people are less inclined to stop a direct debit once they’ve started it up - the self-inflicted guilt trip being the main factor there. All the charities that I contribute to had a direct debit option.

    Oxfam (my personal favourite charity) has a British site you can sign up from, and also an American one (scroll down to see how to get it to come out of your account, rather than on a credit card), a Canadian one, an Australian one, an Irish one, and a Kiwi one. Now there’s no excuse ;) .

    Posted by plonkee | February 28, 2008, 6:40 pm
  14. Cool post. We give to charities, especially ones that we feel attached to, such as the organization that runs a boarding school my husband attended. We also give to our church and to some other smaller charities, but not as much as we should. Once we get out of debt, our donations will increase.

    Posted by Maria - Frugal Homesteading | June 25, 2008, 10:35 pm
  15. Great list. And I like how you pointed out that most of us who have Internet access should be able to give at least a little.

    Posted by think outside the piggy bank | July 18, 2008, 8:14 pm
  16. giving to charity is just one big joke , the more we give the more they have to waste on excess luxuries like flying business class and putting up staff in good hotels……and anyway, the third world don’t really benefits , only the banks in switzerland and iceland , i feel so good to know that many charities lost so much in collapsed icelandic banks…..ohhhh, was that money not mean’t to be used for good causes…….don’t give to charities……

    Posted by paul | October 11, 2008, 7:34 am
  17. never give more than you should….in fact only give when you can see there accounts …..and see where they spend there money……letys face it, only , maybe , just 30% goes to good causes….ohh i forgot telephone conversations and stamps are not free …..then wht not go online , use e=mails and save yourselves some money but then again stamp expenses are only an excuse

    Posted by paul | October 11, 2008, 7:38 am
  18. Nothing is free, and all charities have administration costs.

    I think it’s an excellent idea to check out a charities accounts before you decide to donate. I am happy and comfortable with the money that I send to Oxfam. It goes on the things that I think it should go on.

    Posted by plonkee | October 11, 2008, 11:02 am
  19. I’m a fundraiser for World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), in Australia, and I hear the worst excuses possible. I also have several direct debit charities i give to (including Oxfam and Amnesty International) and it really gives of the shits when someone puts 50cents into a tin and tells of they’re doing there bit. If you are not poor enough to take charity, you are rich enough to give it. One of the worst excuses I’ve heard is “I need to think about it.” Think about what? Do you case or not about the cause? And paul i don’t know where you get your facts mate but to say 30% as a generalization is just a made up statistic. Here’s a few charities fund allocations: Greenpeace-89% cause, 8% fundraising, 3% admin. WSPA-83% protection programs, 13% fundraising, 4% admin. Amnesty International- 86% cause, 11% fundraising, 3% admin. Medicins sans Frontier (Doctors without Borders)- 75% cause, 16% fundraising, 9% admin.

    Posted by shade | October 17, 2008, 3:13 am
  20. If I see someone that I think deserves it then I’ll give it to them. I usually put my pennies into the donation box. Sometimes I give to animal charities because my dog has been sick in the past.

    Posted by savings | November 13, 2008, 12:08 pm
  21. In a perfect world we wouldn’t need charities. If the system really worked, money would be well spent and distributed. Everybody would live confortably and have access to whatever needs they’d have, like support on cancer, child abuse or whatever problem it’d be.

    In a world where footballers are paid millions to kick a ball about we’ll always need charity.

    Meanwhile I give to charity waiting on a better world and system.

    Posted by Jorge | November 28, 2008, 8:53 am
  22. agree with 3, especially

    that’s the lamest excuse.
    You can’t afford $5? Just skip Starbuck’s one day a month, and boom- there’s your $5/month donation!
    Your charity will appreciate it, because most charities rely on these “drop in the bucket” donations more than huge corporate checks!

    Posted by jehan | November 29, 2008, 11:36 pm
  23. You can do monthly donations on GlobalGiving.org to organizations in virtually any country, with really small (like send a child to school) or really big goals (climate change).

    Posted by marc | June 18, 2009, 8:21 pm
  24. Well written post - love your responses. I give to Cancer Memorial as their work will be global and serves multiple purposes that fit a lot of giving needs - new parks/art, remembering those we lost and raising awareness for other charities.

    Posted by dacob | September 7, 2009, 7:18 pm
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  27. I’ll admit it, I’ve probably used all of these excuses at some point, and am not a massive giver to charity. We tend to have various fund raising events at work, and that’s when I’ll donate a bit of cash.

    There’s always the lottery too ;>)

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  30. I do like contributing to charities per se but I just cant get myself part with my hard earned money.. the way I justify it is.. well even if I do not give out money to charities but when I buy stuff I am helping world economy.. My money will ultimately create more opportunities which in turn will help people who show willingness to work for money.. charity is just a more direct way but ultimately my contribution has the same effect. i do not know how true this is.. but I have never tried to verify this either..

    Posted by Instant Payday | May 10, 2010, 7:49 pm
  31. The thing with charities is that you never really know where your money are distributed or how are distributed. Charities need much more transparency in order to be believable.

    Posted by john | June 26, 2010, 10:26 pm
  32. I used to give and give and give, but having worked as a volunteer for lots of charities I got really fed up with the workers taking all the best clothes, best food, even brand-new donations that well-off people would give, etc., piling it up in wheelie carts to drag home with them whilst the punters waiting for the food give-away or whatever got all the rubbish. I have seen this over and over again. I don’t believe in charity.

    Posted by katatinka | September 5, 2010, 8:05 am
  33. im student in second year in Europe, i really need a kind person ho can help me to donate me same money for finishing my studies, please write to my at than k you very much!

    Posted by alin | September 30, 2010, 11:46 pm
  34. I have racked up soo much CC debt that I would love some charity in paying it off, but I don’t suppose thats gonna happen. Shame really

    Posted by credit card debt help | November 4, 2010, 5:40 pm
  35. I dont belive too, i think they take money to they self. If they can show to who is that money goes i give it, otherwise, no!

    Posted by Igrice | November 16, 2010, 9:18 am

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