What to consider when making a charitable donation

The Christmas season is one of generosity, and many make a point to give to charitable organizations this time of year. But with so many charities doing so much good, how can we choose which ones to support? And, as Catholics, can we give to charities that are run by churches of other faiths?

Recently on Go Ask Your Father,™ Msgr. Stuart Swetland gave a run-down of things to consider when making a charitable contribution, any time of the year. Msgr. Swetland said:

“First and foremost, we are all called to be good stewards of what God has entrusted to our care. That’s our time, that’s all the gifts we have as far as abilities and talents and opportunities, all the relationships we have, and all of our physical and monetary resources. All of this is entrusted to our care to be good stewards. So we should direct those resources all toward building up the Kingdom of God.

When it comes to giving to people who are in the charitable world, the non-profit world, what we should do is direct our resources to those who are doing good, avoiding as much as we can the fact that everyone falls short of being perfect. The Catholic Church, I think, does a great job of being stewards of the resources entrusted to her care. But are we perfect at it? No.

So what we have to do is ask where that money will be best used to build up the Kingdom, and what is God calling me to be a part of and in support of. When I give to charity, I want to know that all the money I am giving (or as much of it as possible) is going to be directed toward the true good that I am giving to that organization to do. I do some research on the institution before I give, and decide whether that institution is doing good.

We give money to an organization that does mostly good, but also some things we don’t agree with – like any Protestant organization that runs a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter. They are doing good work, and if we give money to that, of course we intend it for the good work they do – feeding the hungry, housing the homeless. But if they are not run by a Catholic organization, we do have to accept as a side consequence of giving money to them that they may also have pamphlets, Bibles, or approaches that aren’t fully the Catholic truth.

I’m sure if I went to Lutheran social services there would be pamphlets on Lutheranism, and you would expect that. But if we give to Lutheran social services, we do so because we are supporting the good work they are doing, even though we don’t fully agree with them.

But we do that with our taxes, too. When we pay taxes, we do that for all the good things that our tax money goes toward – schools, roads, defense of the common good, police, fire, and all those other things. And some of that tax money is used in wasteful or sometimes even problematic ways. But when we pay our taxes, we intend the good and we only accept that misuse of funds as a side consequence of trying to do the good we’re doing. And it’s OK to do that.

Now, ideally you find an organization that’s 100% with you. That’s why I’m a big fan of Catholic social services, Catholic religious orders, or any other organization that you know all of the money is going to the good.”

Listen to the full conversation below:

Go Ask Your Father airs weekdays from 1:00 p.m. Eastern/10:00 a.m. Pacific on Relevant Radio®.

Stephanie Foley serves as a Digital Media Producer at Relevant Radio®. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she studied journalism, and she has worked in Catholic radio for 12 years. Stephanie is a wife, a mother of three boys, and in her free time she enjoys reading, running, and really good coffee. You can find more of Stephanie’s writing at relevantradio.com and on the free Relevant Radio mobile app.