Why I Don’t Give to Charities

I don’t normally go around and announce that I don’t donate money.  I guess the cat is out of the bag now.

The basic reason I don’t give money to charities is because I think I can do a better job of “doing good” on my own.  I guess I’m kind of a control freak and at the end of the day I don’t know how my money is being used.  I don’t like that.   It’s the same problem I have with paying taxes.  I have no problem paying for the government services that I use or believe in, but I don’t like not having control over how the money is spent.  I have this underlying fear that my money is just being wasted, and really, why would I give my money to someone if I feel that they are just going to waste it.

This is not say that all charities waste money or that YOU shouldn’t give money to charities.  This is just how I feel about it.  Maybe there are others who feel the same.  It’s important to explore all of our thoughts and beliefs about money and giving is a big part of money.

Also, and this is where the haters will hate so I’ll try to word this carefully, I want to know who I’m helping.  Not everyone who needs help is ready to accept it.  Sometimes people are in the situation they are in because they choose that situation.

In general if I’m giving a stranger the money that I (or my family) worked hard for every day I want to feel like my money is being put to good use. That’s why we stick to our budget every day and live frugally. I do a lot of sacrificing in my life to make sure that every dollar is being used in the best way possible and when a third party gets involved it can be risky, no matter how well intentioned their cause. If I give money to someone I expect them to do the same. If I find out later that the charity that I’ve been giving a big percentage of my money to had a big year-end celebration for their bigwigs then I’m going to be mad. No, I’m sorry, I gave you that money to help, not wine and dine your people.

The type of giving that does get me excited is when I can personally impact someone’s life.  I’d rather give to a struggling neighbor than to donate to a big international charity.  I could totally see myself setting up some kind of foundation or scholarship in the future.  There are certain causes that get me more excited than others, of course.  Programs for teen moms are one.  Sick kids pull at my heart-strings too.  And, of course, financial literacy classes are always awesome.

Do you regularly donate?  Do you stick to a percentage or dollar amount?  Do you have good intentions but never follow through?  Is it a “someday” thing?


  1. says

    You make a good point Ashley. Recently I read that Susan Komen charity was suing small mom and pop charities that were using the pink ribbon. Think about it, you donate your hard earned money and they use a portion of it to litigate? I felt disgusted.

    I think my money will be better spent at a soup kitchen than Susan Komen. Sorry, I know there are a lot of supporters for SK and their cause is noble, but they seem to have forgotten their way.

  2. says

    We donate regularly to several charities. One is our local beagle rescue organization–dogs never choose to be in the horrendous environments I’ve seen them in. My kids love animals, and we also volunteer with the organization and foster dogs for them, so we know how the money is used. If you’re leery of giving money up front, you could always try donating your time first, and get to know an organization. We also regularly donate to our local mental health center, but again, we know how the money is used as my hubby is president of the board of mental health for the county.

    Though we also donate to several national organizations, I’m a big believer in donating locally, as it can make the biggest difference when you donate to smaller organizations that need more help. My kids started their own “charity cups” and regularly donate money to the beagle rescue, and seeing them inspired to help others is worth more than money in my opinion.


  3. says

    I do regularly donate to one charity and I have consistently for about 9 years. I’ve had some reservations in the past with the whole “making sure it’s really helping people” thing, but I’m careful to check and see that they have good ratings.

    I wish I could say I do a better job of volunteering and helping others directly, but I just don’t make the time for that right now in my life. I feel giving money is the next best thing.

  4. says

    Two thoughts on this:

    For your points – there is definitely something to giving face to face and it is superior; in my opinion, to donating to a “intermediary” shall we call them.

    Against your point – some causes require large infrastructures, staff and lots of management and you can’t really get around it.

    But, I have the same misgivings. Concerned that donations are going to paychecks and not into the cause.

  5. says

    It was pressed on me from a young age that I needed to donate 10% of my income to the church and/or charity. I, as of yet, do not donate that much (nor do I think that I ought to be bound to Old Testament law, which is where the 10% figure comes from).

    I don’t have a set amount of my income that I donate, but I try to donate a few hundred dollars several times a year to non-profit causes that are important to me (cancer research, the public library, local theatres, and so forth). However, I can totally respect and understand not wanting to hand your hard-earned bucks over to organizations that may not make good choices with that money.

  6. says

    I don’t donate to charity because I’m still in school and struggling to pay for tuition and living expenses without more student loans. I have been assembling a list of charities I would like to donate to once I have income, though.

    When you say that you like to see where your money is going and you like helping neighbors, what is it that you generally do? Do you give cash or items you know they need, or something else?

  7. Ashley says

    @ Penny; Well… I don’t do anything on a regular basis. I don’t not give, but I don’t go searching for it giving opportunities either. If that makes sense. I’m struggling with this at the moment. I have another article coming next week about giving.

  8. says

    I know that I have a very limited amount of time. I would rather use that time to make money and give more money away than spend it trying to figure out how to directly give away my own less money. Maybe I’m wrong, who knows.

  9. says

    I feel the same way Ashley. I don’t particularly trust many of these organizations to use the money for the purposes they claim. I have seen way too many examples of charities blow the funds on administrative costs, or worse yet covering the costs of celebrities who are supposedly “helping” them. Especially after hearing how one local foundation got in trouble with the IRS for not using enough of the funds it collected for the purpose of which it was established. Instead, they were flying in NBA players, putting them up in plush hotels and paying for their meals (I don’t know any NBA player who can’t afford to pay that out of their own pockets or would even make that a condition of their appearance)

    To me, giving is giving, regardless of the form you choose.

  10. Gerard says

    Having ploughed through several end of year accounts it became obvious to me to stay clear of large charities.
    The main reason being is that I find corporate style salaries paid to CEO’s and top brass obscene, typically $200k – 500k. A luxurious life style on the back of charitable donations.

    I know they can’t run on thin air but where do they draw the line on these salaries?

    I ended up supporting a small local charity directly by way of a monthly debit. One with total transparency and control on salaries, giving me total confidence that my donation is being well spent

  11. Jayne says

    I used to give to charities but not any more. The ‘POOR’ situation is worse than ever before and unfortunately it is similar to those on benefits – if you can get more benefits by sitting on your rear than you can working – then you are not going to improve your lot. Money is poured into ‘under developed’ countries yet they never seem to ‘develop’.
    Keep giving and they will keep taking! As I say I used to give but not any more..

  12. Mike says

    I agree with all of your points – I also do not donate, partly because I feel like charities induce a certain amount of overhead that I don’t want to fund, but also on the principle that I’m being forced to give to “government charity” via taxation. I would undoubtedly feel a greater desire to contribute if Uncle Sam wasn’t taking a portion of my paycheck every two weeks, but since me and everyone else who pays a federal income tax is in the same boat, I feel that I’ve already done my part. If you want me to do more, have the government do less.

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