There are so many ways you can spend your hard-earned money. You could buy new clothes, a few steak dinners, or that new video game console you’ve had your eye on for months. There’s nothing wrong with rewarding yourself because you worked hard and deserve it. However, a recent study by Harvard Business School graduate students called “Feeling Good about Giving: The Benefits (and Costs) of Self-Interested Charitable Behavior,” explores the ways in which donating to charity can lead to benefits for the giver. While the the concept that giving to others can make you feel good about yourself is not a new psychological discovery, there are several more subtle ways that giving your money or volunteering your time for a cause can benefit your psychological, spiritual and emotional well-being:
– Donations are tax deductible.
– Volunteering with a charity results in physical and social benefits.
– Supporting a cause can help keep you informed about issues of social injustice.
– Giving to charity out of spiritual conviction can strengthen your spiritual life.
If you decide to donate to charity, it’s important to do your research and find out just how much of your donation is actually going toward the cause. The unfortunate truth is a lot of charities (big or small) are misleading as to where your donation is going. A sad example is every year, Kids Wish Network raises millions of dollars in donations in the name of dying children and their families. However, only 3 cents on the dollar actually go to helping children. A big chunk of the rest gets diverted to enrich the charity’s operators and the for-profit companies Kids Wish hires to drum up donations. To get a better idea, the Tampa Bay Times put together a list of the 50 worst charities, or charities that give a small percentage of every dollar to their cause. Note: Even though a small percentage is given, these charities still donate thousands, and often times millions, of dollars to a good cause.
Total raised by solicitors
Paid to solicitors
% spent on direct cash aid
|1||Kids Wish Network||$127.8 million||$109.8 million||2.5%|
|2||Cancer Fund of America||$98.0 million||$80.4 million||0.9%|
|3||Children’s Wish Foundation International||$96.8 million||$63.6 million||10.8%|
|4||American Breast Cancer Foundation||$80.8 million||$59.8 million||5.3%|
|5||Firefighters Charitable Foundation||$63.8 million||$54.7 million||8.4%|
|6||Breast Cancer Relief Foundation||$63.9 million||$44.8 million||2.2%|
|7||International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO||$57.2 million||$41.4 million||0.5%|
|8||National Veterans Service Fund||$70.2 million||$36.9 million||7.8%|
|9||American Association of State Troopers||$45.0 million||$36.0 million||8.6%|
|10||Children’s Cancer Fund of America||$37.5 million||$29.2 million||5.3%|
|11||Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation||$34.7 million||$27.6 million||0.6%|
|12||Youth Development Fund||$29.7 million||$24.5 million||0.8%|
|13||Committee For Missing Children||$26.9 million||$23.8 million||0.8%|
|14||Association for Firefighters and Paramedics||$23.2 million||$20.8 million||3.1%|
|15||Project Cure (Bradenton, FL)||$51.5 million||$20.4 million||0.0%|
|16||National Caregiving Foundation||$22.3 million||$18.1 million||3.5%|
|17||Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth||$19.6 million||$16.1 million||0.0%|
|18||United States Deputy Sheriffs’ Association||$23.1 million||$15.9 million||0.6%|
|19||Vietnow National Headquarters||$18.1 million||$15.9 million||2.9%|
|20||Police Protective Fund||$34.9 million||$14.8 million||0.8%|
|21||National Cancer Coalition||$41.5 million||$14.0 million||1.1%|
|22||Woman To Woman Breast Cancer Foundation||$14.5 million||$13.7 million||0.4%|
|23||American Foundation For Disabled Children||$16.4 million||$13.4 million||0.8%|
|24||The Veterans Fund||$15.7 million||$12.9 million||2.3%|
|25||Heart Support of America||$33.0 million||$11.0 million||3.4%|
|26||Veterans Assistance Foundation||$12.2 million||$11.0 million||10.5%|
|27||Children’s Charity Fund||$14.3 million||$10.5 million||2.3%|
|28||Wishing Well Foundation USA||$12.4 million||$9.8 million||4.6%|
|29||Defeat Diabetes Foundation||$13.8 million||$8.3 million||0.1%|
|30||Disabled Police Officers of America Inc.||$10.3 million||$8.1 million||2.5%|
|31||National Police Defense Foundation||$9.9 million||$7.8 million||5.8%|
|32||American Association of the Deaf & Blind||$10.3 million||$7.8 million||0.1%|
|33||Reserve Police Officers Association||$8.7 million||$7.7 million||1.1%|
|34||Optimal Medical Foundation||$7.9 million||$7.6 million||1.0%|
|35||Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation||$9.0 million||$7.6 million||1.0%|
|36||Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center||$8.2 million||$6.9 million||0.1%|
|37||Children’s Leukemia Research Association||$9.8 million||$6.8 million||11.1%|
|38||United Breast Cancer Foundation||$11.6 million||$6.6 million||6.3%|
|39||Shiloh International Ministries||$8.0 million||$6.2 million||1.3%|
|40||Circle of Friends For American Veterans||$7.8 million||$5.7 million||6.5%|
|41||Find the Children||$7.6 million||$5.0 million||5.7%|
|42||Survivors and Victims Empowered||$7.7 million||$4.8 million||0.0%|
|43||Firefighters Assistance Fund||$5.6 million||$4.6 million||3.2%|
|44||Caring for Our Children Foundation||$4.7 million||$4.1 million||1.6%|
|45||National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition||$4.8 million||$4.0 million||0.0%|
|46||American Foundation for Children With AIDS||$5.2 million||$3.0 million||0.0%|
|47||Our American Veterans||$2.6 million||$2.3 million||2.3%|
|48||Roger Wyburn-Mason & Jack M Blount Foundation For Eradication of Rheumatoid Disease||$8.4 million||$1.8 million||0.0%|
|49||Firefighters Burn Fund||$2.0 million||$1.7 million||1.5%|
|50||Hope Cancer Fund||$1.9 million||$1.6 million||0.5%|
To find out what charities give a higher percentage, check out Charity Navigator. Below is an example of what you can expect. These numbers are taken from a very reputable charity, The Michael J. Fox Foundation.
Donating to a charity that speaks to you is important, but it’s also important to learn as much as you can about the organization and find out just how much you are really donating. Take a few extra minutes and visit Charity Navigator before donating. You’ll be glad you did!
While on the subject of donating, take a minute and find out why you should donate your car instead of selling it. It sounds outrageous, but we promise you’ll learn a lot!