Buying Girl Scout Cookies From Your Daughter is NOT Charity...

… its chipping in.

In fact it seems like MOST forms of charitable donations are not actually charity.

Buying a herd of goats for a village in central africa is charity.

Giving your alma mater 25 million dollars and getting your name on a building is NOT charity.

Donating money to your kids school is NOT charity.

Giving money to your church that is used primarily to run church programs (like day care, sunday school, short term summer mission trips, paying for the facilities and staff, etc) that you participate in is NOT charity.

And buying girl scout cookies from your daughter is not charity.

Making donations to your church so they can buy their way out of the presbytery, so they don’t have to allow female pastors or pretend they’re cool with gay people, shouldn’t be charity, but technically is. Likewise tithing 10% to your megachurch so they can buy really big speakers and a fancy show lighting system.

I’m confused. Are you saying that donating money to something just so it makes you feel good IS charity and that donating money to something that does something useful isn’t?

Most of my donation money goes to animal rescue. I’m active in animal rescue. Does that mean that I’m not donating money to charity?

I do buy livestock as donations to Heifer International. I do this as Christmas gifts for people who already have everything they want/need. Are you saying I should stop because its just a feel good thing?

As to Girl Scout cookies, I’ve never thought that was giving to charity. I’ve always thought it was a way to get yummy cookies.

So what is your definition of charity?

I work in higher-ed, and those donations by and large do go to help students get better facilities, equipment, etc without raising their tuition. Benefits others, who cares if if he name is on a room, building, whatever?

Many of those short-term mission trips go help the less fortunate in some way; the costs are to cover travel, lodging, and food while there. It ultimately benefits others.

Donating to your kids school often goes towards things for the needier kids (supplies,etc) or helps buy things all the kids use. 99.9% benefits kids other than your own.

Seems to me disqualifying something as charity if it may benefit you is too narrow. If you give to a food bank, is it charity since you might lose your job and need food?

You can “buy” cookies from them but not take them home, and this is considered a chartable donation, but the effect is the same as just giving money.

You cannot buy and devour the cookies and then claim it is charity
Link (scroll to the bottom, expand the third link under “Cookie Revenue.”)

And anyway for things like this, generally the charitable deduction is only the portion that you are paying in markup over FMV. Is having your name on the building worth $25 million to you? Should the IRS quiz you on how much personal enjoyment you get out of activity, and disallow greater amounts if you’re having too much fun? There may have been a coherent point behind the OP, but the examples are lacking or plain wrong, and it dilutes the argument.

Is buying Samoas foreign aid though? Or does it all go to the American portion of the islands? :dubious:

I try to encourage my coworkers to donate to charity when we start our charitable giving campaign.

I always try to make it clear to them that there is a charity out there for everyone. Some people have a big heart for animals, kids, homeless, natural disaster victims, and veterans. Charities that serve these groups tend to do quite well. But they are a big “meh” for a lot of other people. For folks like these, what’s usually missing is a personal connection. But they may know a Girl Scout. They may have fond memories of their alma mater. People are more likely to keep giving if they have a cause they care about.

I had a partial scholarship in college that was funded through an endowment. It was targeted to women science majors, although the donor was a guy. Every quarter I’d get a check for $300. Seems like small potatoes now, but man, it was totally awesome! Never once did I have to worry about money when I was in school. Many college kids today could sure benefit from something like this.

I have benefited from “non-charity charities”, and I’m betting you have too, especially if you were educated in a typical American public school.

You can also buy cookies from them and they’ll donate the cookies - sometimes to troops overseas, sometimes to local food shelves.

I think the point here is that if you are getting something - other than a tax writeoff for the donation - it isn’t charity. Which I’m not sure is really true, but I would agree that there is a continuum of selflessness in giving. Girl Scout Cookies would rank really low - they do support an organization, but you get something of nearly equal value in return for your money - and if you are buying them for your own kids troop, at least some of the charity value is going to benefit your own kid. On the other hand, donating $25,000 to an arts organization so that you can have your name in the back of the program as a sponsoring donor and get the benefits of big donors (season tickets, a reception or two) seems somewhat more selfless - the FMV of the benefit is small compared to the size of the donation. Giving money you will never see a benefit from to help victims of a natural disaster half way around the world, more selfless still.

So are you saying that it’s charity only if you get absolutely nothing back in return? That’s bullshit.

I think that’s what he’s saying and I don’t think that is bullshit. You clearly profit by funding a new wing to your old college, namely, your children are secured admission. Yet that is tax deductible in the same way as donating to Toys for Tots of which you presumably get no benefit.

Last month, Phil Knight, the co-founder of Nike, promised $400 million to Stanford University to establish a graduate fellowship (modeled on the Rhodes Scholarship). The program, called the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program (Hennessy for John Hennessy, the longtime president of Stanford) has a total endowment of $750 million. Starting in 2018, the program will have 100 grad students each year.

From what I’ve read, many university endowments spend only two percent of their value each year, so Stanford will be spending $150,000 per student per year. And I’m sure they can invest the endowment funds to make much better than two percent annually. Malcolm Gladwell tweeted last year about the giant endowments at the top American schools, pointing out, for example, “Yale’s endowment spent $480 million paying its hedge fund managers last year and $170 million on its students.

And if you took that $750 million pot of money and just spent it over the course of, say, five or ten years, how many thousands of students could be educated, rather than just the 100 that will be at Stanford?

Even with buying the cows in Africa, you’re sort of getting something: a sense of personal satisfaction and moral superiority, not to mention adding to the stability of the world in general, which can certainly affect your own country and life.

Then the only case of charity I can think of would be giving money you absolutely cannot afford to someone you hate (and vice versa) and is actively making your life miserable, solely because you don’t want that person to starve to death.

Maybe not even then.

Leaving aside the math (and I’ve got to say, it’s not the grad student that will be getting $150,000 a year), so you spend all that money on educating thousands of students, and then it’s gone. What do you do then?

There are a lot of good reasons to criticize the use by universities of contributions, but I don’t think that attempting to live off the interest is one of them.

Buying Girl Scout cookies from any Girl Scout is not charity.

It’s servicing an addiction.

The entire process is corrupt. Charity should never be tax-deductible. While it is, everybody rich enough to itemize gets to transfer the burden of supporting their pet cause to the community at large, while still claiming sole credit. Phooey.

Charity is giving to another something that you need, the pence from the widow-woman is more charitable than all the gold in all the realms.

The OP is right, but I don’t think it’s as important a distinction as the OP seems to think.

The stuff you are referring to is all broadly in the realm of “civil society”, encompassing social and cultural organizations that provide general enrichment to a community.

These have long been considered in the realm of things people donate to. They are things that people may not directly benefit from, but which you may want to have in the community none the less. I don’t have any Girl Scout aged kids, but I’m glad we have Girl Scouts in my town. These sorts of things promote social cohesion, add depth and richness to a community and provide valuable opportunities to the individuals involved.

It’s not charity in the sense of providing for the basic needs of the less fortunate. But it is charity in the sense of contributing to something that is a public good.

In my culture it’s not charity: I was taught very definitely that stuff you got your name on didn’t count.

But I’m aware that I share the world with people who were taught the opposite at their mother’s knee: that you are required to put your name on your charitable giving, that you’ve got a responsibility to do so.

And I can see their point, because the record shows that having the named giving does result in larger giving. So if it’s less about what I give and more about you receive, then named giving is the way to go.

The argument about if charitable giving is a good thing is seperate. The argument about charitable tax exemptions is seperate again. There is a bit of a feeling in some sections of the cummunity here that you should just tax the rich, and let the government figure who needs the charity.

It is if you buy it at a higher price.

I know the Pit is not the place to discuss nuances, but I figured I’d throw this in the mix.

Here in Missouri we have a billionaire who paid something like $25 million to have his company name on a college sports arena. Definitely not charity.

He had named the company after his daughter (awww!) Shortly after that the daughter was discovered to have spent $20,000 buying term papers while she was in college. Now the sports arena at the state’s flagship university turned out to be named for an academic cheat. Needless to say, this embarrassed both the family and the school.

The billionaire told the school to keep the money and take the company name off the arena. There is nothing now that an outsider can see that ever connected the arena to the billionaire, his daughter, or the company.

Charity, or just a really bad business investment?

How is it different if I buy GS cookies from a stranger’s daughter vs form my own daughter? In both cases, my $20 goes to the exact same place.

And why is this in the Pit? Are you trying to be charitable to GD?