The Truth Behind Myths About Donations


NORRISTOWN, Pa. — At times it may seem like one is constantly bombarded with requests for donations. Especially in this technological age when one can regularly hear and see charity advertisements, it can be easy to think that a donation won’t make that much of a difference, or even worse, doubt that the problem will ever be resolved.

But this couldn’t be further from the truth. According to the U.N., there are approximately 1.2 billion people living in extreme poverty globally, and donating to organizations that provide foreign aid is one of the few ways that these billions of people can escape extreme poverty.

Every organization has its own set of goals and values, which is one reason why things can get a little overwhelming when deciding which organization will receive a donation. To make matters worse, myths about donations have been widely circulated that may keep people from providing aid.

Below is a list of some common misconceptions and myths about donations, but like most myths, there is no truth to them.

  • “Why should I donate to organizations when the government already spends enough money on foreign aid?” Contrary to popular belief, the U.S. government only spends less than one percent of the total federal budget on aid, according to the National Priorities Project, and both the government and its citizens could be doing more to support those in need.
  • “It is better to provide people in developing countries with specific goods rather than money they can easily misuse.” This particular belief seems to defer a lot of people from supporting an organization. It’s a stereotypical belief that recipients will use money to purchase alcohol or tobacco, and the World Bank sought to prove this wasn’t the case by studying how cash transfers affected the purchase of those two ‘temptation goods.’ According to this World Bank report, cash transfers reduced the amount spent on alcohol and tobacco in about 36 of the 44 estimates conducted.
  • “Providing people or countries with charity will only make them more dependent and the problem will never be solved.” Organizations are well aware of this criticism, which is why many of them, such as the American Red Cross International Services, have a specific program that helps communities continue to grow after they have received aid.
  • “How do I know that my donation actually goes to people in need?” Although this is a reasonable concern, sites like Charity Navigator and GiveWell make it easy to view the effectiveness, transparency and honesty of various organizations. It is also important to check if organizations have received the GuideStar Exchange Seal, which rates an organization on its commitment to transparency.

To browse organizations by category and learn more about top-rated charities, please visit Charity Navigator or

These are just a few of the common myths about donations that really do affect how much aid organizations receive, which is why it is so important to combat these myths. Although it is very difficult and may seem almost impossible at times, serious issues like global poverty can be resolved, but only if the public does its part to help combat its widespread effects.

Meghan Orner

Sources: UN, National Priorities Project, World Bank, Greenville Online, Vox Media
Photo: Executive Business Strategies


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