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Defining charity

Is it still altruism if you're compensated for it? If you make a donation, but then file the receipt with your taxes, or provide something to someone cheaper than they'd normally get it, but you're still being paid, is it really a selfless act? It's blatantly obvious when a business does it - donations in exchange for positive advertising. Why don't we admit the same when it's an individual rather than a corporation?

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Asked by NotPanicking at 10:33 AM on Dec. 17, 2013 in Religious Debate

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (18)
  • See I've always been taught that if you truly want to help someone, you do it out of the goodness of your heart and take or expect nothing in return. When I help someone, it's anonymous. I want nothing in return. I do not take receipts for donations. Same concept when I worked as a volunteer EMT/Firefighter... I never accepted pay or gifts, they were all gifted back to the dept. Remember the person that always anonymously donates the gold coin in Chicago every year.... That's how I would do it.

    Answer by m-avi at 11:03 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • If, as an individual, you are donating your time, money or gifts and you're being compensated for it, it is not altruism.
    I have never received compensation for anything I've done voluntarily nor would I want to.

    Answer by KTElite at 11:10 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • No i dont believe its a true act of giving when youre getting compensated. Ive never filed my donations for tax purposes. I never really thought about it. I just give and thats it. Same for the volunteer stuff i do. I do not get any compensation for rehabilitating abused horses. I do it to help these creatures who have no one else.

    Answer by sahmamax2 at 11:18 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • If you are compensated, it's more like mutualism or a business transaction. When you read the definition of altruism, it says nothing about taking, receiving, etc. but giving and caring for the well being of others.

    Answer by mommy_jules at 11:23 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • Individuals can only put around $500 of donations towards taxes. We give away a lot more than this each year, so I don't see the harm in getting credit for a portion of it. For instance, we gave Goodwill a few thousand $$ worth of goods this year due to a move.

    I don't think the incentive is a negative thing. In our case, we could have sold the items ourselves or just trashed them. Having the tax incentive helped steer our decision on what to do with our belongings.

    We give away a lot each year, usually anonymously.

    Answer by anng.atlanta at 12:27 PM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • …3"But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you...

    Matthew 6:3-4

    This^^^ is (IMO) how to give. Tax deductions make it void.

    Answer by amazinggrace83 at 12:27 PM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • I do take the deduction on my taxes I'll admit it. But then I turn around and 10% of my tax return goes once again to a charity. To me yes it helps me but it also helps whomever I donate the 10% to. What I don't do is toot my horn when I give the donation. Usually we buy things for a Mission School when they're on sale/great price and save it for when we drop off school supplies/Christmas presenets from the church. The school doesn't know who donates it. They send a thank you to the church for everything. To me it's a win for the organization as they are getting more then what we can donate without the deduction. I figured it up once and the duductions actually accounted for about 1/2 of the 10% so they're actually getting 5% more then what they would get without the deduction.

    Answer by baconbits at 12:28 PM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • I have no problem with those that take a donation for charity. They do not necessarily have the same religious values I have as in Mathew stated above. Why should they if it is not their religion?

    Some people I have known will take a deduction so that they can do more.
    I volunteer with a lady that would not be able to give her time without the deduction for the transportation to get there.

    That is not how I do it myself, but I can see the reasoning and I am pretty sure it is still charity for this woman to give up about 20 hours each week to help prepare meals and to be with people who often have no one else to talk to. Her charity is not the gas that she deducts but her time and talent. I feel sure that God can sort this out individually.
    I do not have to worry about itt.

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:22 PM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • Why does charity have to equal altruism? As long as the donations are being made legally and it helps the non-profit or charity then what would it matter the reasons for it being done. I "work" as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America). For this I commit at least one year of my life (going on my third year now) to national service. I would be lying if I said that I didn't get anything out of it in return. Cont...


    Answer by JeremysMom at 2:01 PM on Dec. 17, 2013

  •  Cont.. Although I do receive financial compensation (a monthly stipend, a scholarship, health coverage, etc), I also get in return the feeling of doing something good and changing my community. I could easily go out and get at the very least a minimum wage job and make more than I make now, but I wouldn't be doing something to give back to my community. I see it the same way for donations. Someone could hold a yard sale or sell their things on craigslist, ebay, etc and make more money than they would for tax deductions. 


    Answer by JeremysMom at 2:01 PM on Dec. 17, 2013

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