What are the dimensions of charity?
While everyday life abounds with small opportunities to help and be generous to others, there also exist more structured routes through which you can funnel your sense of charity.
The term charity (plural: charities) thus also describes those that have been set up and are operated for philanthropic, educational or religious reasons, including (but not limited to) the relief of poverty, the advancement of education, the support for medical research, and religious causes. The recent trend away from paternalistic terminology has precipitated a general switch from the use of the term "charity" to the use of the term "nonprofit organization."
Political correctness aside, nonprofit organizations - including charities, charitable trusts, charitable foundations, religious institutions, educational institutions, and other entities set up not to make a profit but to make a difference—are federally registered with a charitable status that allows an organization to issue tax receipts for donations, and involves rules and regulations about governance, advocacy and operations that may provide a higher level of accountability than non-charities.
The term "charity" derives from Christian theology, in which charity is one of the three great moral virtues (it means loving kindness towards others). Though the term charity itself is from the Judeo-Christian tradition, this fraternal regard for a kindness toward others is inherent across traditions:
• The ancient Greeks used the term "agape" (or love) to describe a person's seemingly innate inclination to help others.
• In Islam, the term "hubb" or "mahabbah" denotes tenderness and affection, and often results in "sadaquah," or almsgiving.
• In Buddhism, there exist multiple kinds of charity, but pure charity is considered the best merit a person can possess.
This sense of charity translates into a moral duty to help others, often through self-sacrifice. In its most common incarnations, such self-sacrifice includes the giving of money or goods to those less fortunate, or the donation of time to help others in need.
You really did them a charity! "How charitable of you!" We say such things to applaud kindnesses - but what does it really mean? Generally, charity is known less as the inclination toward kindness that it describes than as the action that it engenders.
Charity is also the act of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others, the giving of money or of aid, the being generous and full of sympathy and understanding. Charity can be giving your spare change to a homeless person, or writing a check to an organization that does research on medicines for sick children. Charity can be spending time with lonely elderly people, or it can be offering sympathetic words to someone who is having a hard day.
The translation of your sense of charity into action can be as small as letting someone cut ahead of you in traffic when you are in a rush, or as large as a million-dollar donation to an organization that provides disaster relief or any number of other public services. There are innumerable opportunities every day to put charity into action.
Charity Frequently Asked Questions
What services do animal charities provide?
What are modern animal shelters like?
What is the ASPCA's mission?
What services does the American Humane Society offer?
What should I consider before adopting or rescuing a pet?
What does the World Wildlife Fund do?
What are the dimensions of charity?
How does the charitable market differ by nation?
Why should I donate my money, time or goods?
How should I go about deciding which charities to support?
What do breast cancer charities do?
What are some high-profile breast cancer charities in the United States?
How can I support the fight against cancer?
How can I help stop the spread of HIV/AIDS?
What are some international service agencies I can support?
Why do nonprofit organizations have so many fundraising campaigns?
What do my donations to annual campaigns fund?
What is a capital campaign?
What is an endowment campaign?
What role do special events play in charities' fundraising activities?
Should I buy these new charity wristbands?
Are there objective bodies that report on charities' activities?
Do charities have to disclose their operating records?
Where can I find out more about how a charity operates?
How can I support children in the United States and around the world?
What are some organizations that provide services to children and families?
What is the digital divide?
Why does the digital divide matter?
Does the digital divide only affect people and the countries in which they live?
How can I help bridge the digital divide?
What is disaster relief?
Who participates in disaster relief and recovery efforts?
What are the phases of disaster relief and recovery?
What kind of disasters need relief?
What are the different ways to donate money to charitable organizations?
Do I have to give a large gift to make a difference?
Why should I donate blood?
Why should I become an organ donor?
How can I help sick kids?
Is my old cell phone something I can donate?
Can my old computer be used by schools or charitable organizations?
What is the best way to donate a computer?
What should I do when donating a computer?
What do environmental charities do?
What organizations promote conservation and environmental protection?
Are homeless charities meeting current needs or helping homeless people become self-sufficient?
What does the National Coalition for the Homeless focus on?
How does America's Second Harvest address hunger and homelessness in the United States?
How does the Enterprise Foundation support community development and fight homelessness?
How can I help combat homelessness?
What are some organizations that are involved in international relief programs and efforts?
What does the term "nonprofit organization" refer to?
How can I plan to support my favorite causes through a bequest?
What are the tax implications of making a bequest?
Where can I get more information about planned giving?
How can corporations contribute to charitable causes?
What are the tax benefits of corporate giving?
Why should companies donate to charity and community causes?
What should I look out for when deciding to which charities to give?
What can I give to charitable causes?
How can I get involved without spending a lot of money?
How to I get to know the organizations I am considering supporting?
How to I teach philanthropy to my children?
What is philanthropy?
What are some smart things to do as I plan my charitable giving?
What is substance abuse?
How can we help prevent and reduce substance abuse in our communities?
How do charitable organizations help people with dependency issues and their families?
What are some organizations that provide substance abuse prevention and treatment services?
How can I help people with substance abuse issues?
What are missionaries?
How do I find a volunteer opportunity?
Are there volunteer opportunities that are not "in person" opportunities?
What role can online volunteers play?
How can I find an online volunteer opportunity?
Can I volunteer my technology skills?
What do I need to do to be a good volunteer?
What skills could I offer an organization?
How can I help charitable causes if I don't have a lot of money to donate?