This question discusses both the obligation to give charity and certain requirements of the receiving institution, but the "best answer" does not address one particular type of charity. It mentions that a Catholic charity has "helped Jewish parents adopt a baby, too" but I don't know if this is meant to limit donations to that one particular, unnamed charity or to say that all Catholic charities are acceptable.

As I walked out of the store today, there was a table manned by representatives of the "Mission Life" church. That might not actually be the name but it was something like that. Their sign said that donations would help save a child's life but I don't know the scope of that -- are they saving his soul through Christian education? Are they providing actual medical help? But if I don't donate, would that appear as a chilul hashem as I am ignoring people in need?

What about donating my clothes to the Salvation Army -- their name makes clear one of the aspects of their charity, "Salvation." And if Santa is standing outside the store in mid-December, am I allowed to donate even though he is collecting money which might be used for something akin to missionizing?

In short: Is it at all acceptable to donate to a Christian charity if I don't know whether or not the money will go towards missionizing and the like?

  • 1
    It's not totally clear what your question is. What is the "particular type of charity" you are asking about? Are you asking whether it is permissible to give to them, or whether it counts halachically as charity? You might also consider splitting this question if there isn't one focused idea that you want to ask about.
    – user3318
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 23:24
  • Is it at all acceptable to donate to a Christian charity if I don't know whether or not the money will go towards missionizing and the like.
    – rosends
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 1:49
  • 1
    worth a read torah.org/advanced/weekly-halacha/5773/noach.html?print=1
    – sam
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 1:55
  • @sam thanks -- I wish the article was more explicit about charities that are specifically Christian and might do more than combat hunger in terms of theological pursuits.
    – rosends
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 2:07
  • 1
    there are certain halachas of priority in tzedaka so could be due to that alone the answer is no.
    – ray
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 6:24

2 Answers 2


I can't speak for Jewish law, but even without religious concerns, I would recommend that you spend your money wisely in terms of giving to charity. I wasn't able to find any information about a charity called "Mission Life", but the name alone is probably grounds for concern.

There are a large number of Christian charities that genuinely do help people around the world, but the vast majority of them also do missionary work. While it is obviously a commendable thing to provide education to children in undeveloped countries, and a lot of the education is very useful (teaching kids to read and write, do mathematics, etc), there is usually a religious aspect to the schools, including proselytism and evangelical agendas.

The site "Charity Navigator" is an invaluable resource for finding out exactly what your donations will be spent on. It also provides some insight into the motivation, and possible religious agenda, of each of the charities listed. The site rates the charities based on how many cents of each dollar donated actually benefits the people who need it. It tells you how much, if anything, the CEOs and other administrative personnel are paid, and who controls the spending and relief work.

There are some absolutely fantastic charities that have no ulterior motives, no religious agenda, and a total commitment to helping the people who need it while taking little or nothing for themselves.

My personal favorite charities are Water, which is devoted to providing clean, sanitary drinking water to people who otherwise wouldn't have access to it, and the participants in the Microcredit Summit Campaign. The philosophy behind the Microcredit Summit Campaign is based on solid research. Basically, the idea is to provide small loans to women in underdeveloped countries. The loan is spent on setting up a small business, and the recipient of the loan eventually pays it back (without interest). The loan payment is not returned to the donor, but is instead put back into the system; every time a loan is repaid, it funds the next loan.

In this way, the focus is shifted from giving a handout to giving an opportunity for the recipient to support themselves in the future. Not only is the recipient enabled to help themselves, but they actually get the opportunity to help other needy people. As a result, each donation turns into an endless cycle of loans, and the charity expands with every new recipient, and a minimum amount of input of donations.

In short, whether or not it is acceptable under Jewish law, donating to Christian charities isn't the best option. You can find the charity that best suits your wishes on Charity Navigator.

  • 2
    As you noted this doesnt really answer the question, although it does contain thoroughly usefull info. (BTW I am not just saying that to be diplomatic). It seems like a comment; or several comments, would be the best medium for this info.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 2:20
  • @mevaqesh - I think it answers the part about where the money goes (which is in the bold portion of the question), and since the question has gone a year without being answered, I took a chance and did my best. If it gets closed, I won't complain.
    – Wad Cheber
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 2:24

Their sign said that donations would help save a child's life but I don't know the scope of that …
Is it at all acceptable to donate to a … charity if I don't know whether or not the money will go towards …

You've answered your own question right there.

People (of any religion) are not required to give money to everyone that asks for it. If they were, we'd all be broke except for some very rich scammers.

If you are really concerned about it, ask them for their brochure and look up what they do when you get home. Determine exactly what the money is used for. If you then feel that you want to donate, do so; if not, don't (and be guilt free about it).

Even some legal charities and non-profit organizations are, in practice, totally useless. E.g. you receive a brochure in the mail telling you about how bad some disease is, what the symptoms are, etc. and asking you for donations to help with education about the disease. If you look into it, the "education" consists of mailing out those brochures (you were educated about the disease, weren't you?). The staff and administration of course get their salaries paid out of that donation too.

Donator caveat!

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .