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I never was sure which charity to support and I hated reading stuff they sent me.  The letters are so pitiful that you can't help but feel guilty that you're not in similar circumstances.  Sometimes I felt I should just turn over all my money to them and maybe ask for a small allowance :)  Instead I threw the unopened requests into a drawer until December when I would choose six or seven.  I started off with Salvation Army, United Way, an Indian organization, veterans' organization, organization to help the homeless, a religious group or two which was about as much as I felt I could handle and still take care of my own needs.  Within a year or two, the requests at the end of the year came to over 100.  I think many of the organizations that receive a donation pass on (or sell) your name and address to other organizations.  I began getting four or more solicitions from various Indian and veterans' organizations, and other charitable groups.  I began to feel like I didn't want to donate to anyone. 

And what are you to do with all the gifts they send:  key chains, calendars, address labels, note pads, umbrella (yes!) and various other things?  One year I ended up with six calendars and I get tons of address labels.  I used to feel guilty using address labels if I didn't donate but I stopped feeling guilty and just use the darn things.   
 
 

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I think it's very important to give to charities, but I rarely want any of the stuff they send. It irritates me to donate to help the environment only to receive lots and lots of paper. And it irritates me to get the phone calls, particularly since when you donate that way the company making the calls tends to get a disproportionate chunk.
 

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I think it is important to donate to charities also, however, I try to keep mine local. There are so many programs that have had their funding reduced or cut that could use a boost in funds that I try to rotate who I donate to each year. One of my favorties is a local Literacy Council program that gives a free book to each child when they go to the Children's Clinic. There are many schools that collect supplies and make up backpacks for children who can not afford the supplies. One of our shoe stores has a program where if a school Principal has a student that has obvious need for new shoes, he provides them free of charge.

If you don't need the tax write-off, think outside the box and make your donated money count for something that you can be proud of.
 

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I have a few charities I donate to.  Couple hospice organizations, two animal related, food bank in this area.  Those are my regulars.  I prefer to donate to smaller charities. 

I never had a huge problem with telemarketer calls.  (I am on the do-not-call list though.)  Calls from charities have become worse than telemarketers ever were.
 

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If you can, check a reliable source to verify the proportion of revenues that go to actual charitable works, as opposed to administrative costs and fundraising. Some so-called charities seem to me more like make-work (employment) projects for the people who thought them up, than actual aid-the-underprivileged organizations.
 

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hera said:
I use Charity Navigator (http://www.charitynavigator.org) to help decide what charities to donate to. Info about revenue & expenses, plus an overall star rating if you don't want to look at the data in more detail.

Charity Navigator even has info about reducing charity solicitations-http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=254.

I also use CatalogChoice (http://www.catalogchoice.org) to opt out of charity (and other) mailings.
It's funny you mentioned Charity Navigator, because that's exactly what my son and I used to find the charity he wanted to donate to. There are so many scam charities out there, that I didn't want him to fall prey to their schemes. He ultimately decided on a 5 star charity, Habitat for Humanity. I love the rating system on this website. They don't hide anything.
 
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