As a charitable person, one of my main goals in life is to help others any way I can. Most people like to lend a hand in some way, and some people make it a major facet of their routine. Although we try our best to give back in a meaningful way, sometimes, we can make mistakes. These mistakes, unfortunately, can cause charities and those in need to suffer, and we may be none the wiser. Before you engage in a philanthropic cause, make sure you are not making one of these big mistakes.

Trend Over Substance

No matter where you live or who you know, you have probably heard more than once about a trendy activity you can do to support charity. One good example is the Ice Bucket Challenge. While these events do receive views online and may spread like wildfire, they also tend to be less effective than simply giving. For example, many people who did the Ice Bucket Challenge forgot one crucial part — they were supposed to donate afterward. This means that some kids were able to use charity to get views on a challenge that did not benefit the charity whatsoever. Although creating or participating in a trend may be fun, make sure you are actually helping those in need at the same time.

Restricting Your Donation

When you donate to a breast cancer charity, you expect all of your money to go to researchers and research materials, right? Well, the unfortunate truth is most charities need to cover administrative bills, and many do so with your donation. When people find this out, they may choose to donate with the condition that their money is put only toward the charity’s research. What many people fail to realize, however, is that government organizations and large donations already go toward this part of the charity and are usually restricted for these purposes already. So, while you may wish your $10 directly benefited those in need, your money may really be more useful elsewhere.

Donating Your Junk

Many of us have old clothes, electronics, or furniture lying around the house. Instead of throwing these ancient artifacts away, we may be tempted to donate them to a local thrift store charity. However, be aware that these charities have limits on what they can accept. If you want to be sure that your donations are accepted, ask for a list of acceptable items and sort through your possessions to find those. Regardless, you may still be required to go over your items with a charity employee, depending on what they are.

When you begin donating to a charity for the first time, you may quickly learn about some of the pitfalls of donating. Make sure that your charitable efforts are truly helping others by avoiding these mistakes. If you do so, you can rest easy knowing that you have helped someone today.