What is Charity?

PayPal - The safer, easier way to pay online!You have probably heard of several huge global charities such as OXFAM International and UNICEF. It is possible that during your lifetime you have probably donated to these charities simply by throwing loose change in a box or can sitting on your local supermarket counter.

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Did you know that according to CharityFacts.com there are over 500,000 charities in the United Kingdom and fewer than 200,000 of those are registered charities. If you apply that number on a global scale,you can probably estimate that there are at least 5 million charities worldwide and 2 million of those are registered ones. That number is mind boggling.

What is a charity?

Definition: A charity is a particular type of volunteer organization that takes a distinctive legal form and has a special tax status. It is given a registered charitable number and is exempt from certain taxes. It has a legal right to solicit donations to better serve the clients that it serves.

In my opinion, the definition is slightly outdated and applies only to registered charities. When you consider that the number of charities who are not registered is almost double – it seems somewhat inadequate.

How does this apply to a charity organization in a third world nation? Do you honestly think they are registered or even care about the politics involved in collecting donations?

A charity can be any group or individual who actively participates in voluntarily collecting donations to help support a cause.

An example of this – a high school dance club who raises money for a trip to a championship because many individuals on the team are unable to afford to attend. Are they not in fact preforming the duties of a charity?

*A charity offers a “helping hand” service to a client.
*A charity raises funds to better serve its clients.
*A charity promotes awareness of the causes of its service.

If you consider those elements, then it would be considered a charity.

The only real difference between a registered and non-register charity is the fact that people who donate to a registered charity can receive a receipt for income tax deductions. This helps the charity because people are more likely to offer a donation when they can receive something in return.

Donations do not always warrant a receipt. If you have change in your car and place it in a change box at a drive through window, then you will most likely not expect to receive a receipt. It has not deterred you from donating and it probably is a registered charity.

There is simply to much grey area when it comes to charities, perhaps we simply need to create more exact definitions? However you wish to define it, charities help to improve the quality of lives for many individuals.

In the end, that is what truly matters about what is a charity.