More and more retail outlets offer customers a chance to make charitable donations in checkout lines. The clerk usually asks you to make a donation after ringing up your purchase. Here are five reasons why you should consider avoiding this type of impulse donation, even if it sounds good at first.
It's virtually impossible to evaluate the worthiness of a charity within just a few seconds of someone asking the question as you watch your total appear on the screen. These types of charitable donations are convenient, but you may not have heard what the charity stands for or how it spends its money. If you see the fundraising drive as you walk into the store, do some quick research on your smartphone during a spare moment. If you're pressed for time, look the charity up later, and consider making a small donation from home.
Some retailers don't match the charitable donations given by customers. Ask the checkout clerk if the store matches the monetary value accumulated from checkout lines. You can also research this at home so you can make a better decision next time you shop at this retailer.
Some of these checkout charities make customers feel guilty for not giving, which then makes people feel pressured to give next time they come into the store. People try to feel good about giving charitable donations to worthy causes, but the confusion of the moment, coupled with antsy kids in the cart and a load of groceries to take to the car, may not make for the best situation to make a snap decision about giving an organization money.
4. Tax Deduction
Accountants and financial planners know that taxpayers receive a deduction by giving money to registered charities. A checkout charity doesn't allow for that because your receipt says you paid an extra dollar or two to the retailer as opposed to the organization. Charitable donations go towards the retailer first and then to the charity, which means the corporation gets a tax write-off instead of you. In order to make a donation work in your favor at tax time, you have to have enough itemized deductions to go above your standard deduction anyway.
Many charities simply don't have transparency when it comes to investigating your investment at the checkout time; plus, the clerk may not have all of the answers to your pertinent questions. What does the charity do? What program does your donation fund? What's the relationship between the store and the charity?
All of these issues might dilute your actual contribution by bogging it down in administrative fees. Cashiers might have an incentive to get the most donations by winning an in-house contest, which further raises the question of how much of the donated money goes to the actual charity or the cause that it supports.
The big picture is that these donations are usually just $1. However, if the principle of charitable donations at checkout time bothers you, there are plenty of other chances to donate to a charity that fits your ideals thanks to the Internet.
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