Now that you have oodles of cash from being a socially responsible investor, winning your Oscar pool, and donating sperm, you want to give some of it away to better humanity. (How Mother Theresa-ian.) Or maybe you just want a tax write-off. (How Donald Trump-ian). We don't judge; giving is giving, and the people to whom you donate will always be appreciative, regardless of your motives. More good news: you don't just have to donate money - you can donate food, clothes, pet supplies, blood, feral midgets, or even just time. So roll up your sleeves and get ready to donate!


There are literally thousands of charitable organizations out there, all of which represent beautiful, tear-inducing causes. When most people think of charities, they think of diseases or helping children (best case scenario: helping diseased children), but there are tons of other causes to which you can donate. According to the IRS, there are nine main types of non-profit organizations:

  1. Charitable Organizations. Includes religious, scientific, and educational institutions as well as private foundations.

  2. Social Welfare Organizations. Includes civic leagues and community organizations.

  3. Labor and Agricultural Organizations. Includes labor unions and farm bureaus.

  4. Business Leagues. Includes trade associations and chambers of commerce.

  5. Social Clubs. Includes hobby and country clubs.

  6. Fraternal Societies. Includes lodges and other such organizations.

  7. Veteran's Organizations. Includes organizations of past or present members of the Armed Forces of the United States.

  8. Employee's Associations. Includes voluntary employees' benefit associations and local associations of employees.

  9. Political Organizations. Includes campaign committees and political parties.

    Our recommendation for a tenth:

  10. Start-up Websites. Especially "how-to" ones. Please? We're hungry. And cold.

When choosing a charity, it is important to decide what is most important to you. Most likely, it will be something that has personally affected you. For example, consider your Alma Mater, medical research for a disease that a loved one has endured, the training fund for an athlete you admire, or a local community initiative. Maybe you want to donate to the National Democratic Committee or the Human Rights Campaign or the Anti-Defamation League or breast cancer research. There are too many to list (obviously), so we suggest that you start out by deciding what you personally feel is an important cause and go on from there.

To check out a complete listing of non-profit organizations, go to the IRS website and use their search function, or you can search on the site.

One final factor you will want to consider is how much of your donation actually goes to the cause. While some foundations give 100% of the donation to those in need, others retain a percentage to cover operating costs. Charities will be up front about this (they have to, according to the IRS) so make sure to do your research so that you end up with an arrangement that makes you comfortable.