Like most people, we got flooded toward the end of the year with appeals from organizations wanting money. Usually we're generous, but this year we threw them all away after hearing about a charity that turned out to be a fraud. How can we know which are legitimate? Or are they all a bit shady?
No, they aren’t “all a bit shady”—not at all. Sadly, you do hear occasionally of organizations that aren’t trustworthy—but these are rare, and in my experience the vast majority are not only honest but are deeply committed to helping others.
We sometimes forget that charities and religious organizations need money to carry on their work—and if they don’t have enough financial support, their work suffers. But those they seek to help suffer even more, because they’re no longer able to get the assistance they need. Even Jesus’ little band of disciples required money, which they got from contributions. We read, for example, of several women who had been healed by Jesus and “were helping to support them out of their own means” (Luke 8:3).
Don’t turn your back on organizations that are doing a good job and need your help. Admittedly you can’t do everything or help every organization, but you can help some—and you should. God gave your money to you, and He wants you to use it for His glory. The Bible says we shouldn’t give “reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).
Ask God to guide you as you give. If you aren’t familiar with an organization, ask your pastor or other knowledgeable person for advice. Avoid those that spend lavishly on fundraising, or use high pressure methods or strongly emotional appeals. An organization’s work should speak for itself.