There are two distinct categories of charity: direct and advocacy. Both have their advantages and disadvantages. If you prefer one over the other already, go ahead and choose one of that type to support through your garage sale charity. If, however, you aren't sure what they are, or if you can't decide between the two, here's a little more information to help you on your way to a decision.
An advocacy charity is a charitable organization that acts on behalf of its target group to sway public opinion -- whether legally or just in attitude -- about that group. For instance, a homelessness advocacy group might create programs to show the kind side of homeless people to those who are afraid of the homeless; they could also be working to get some laws about homelessness in their hometown or home state changed by lobbying senators and speaking with other lawmakers.
A direct charity is a charitable organization that gets its hands dirty working with its target group. A soup kitchen, for instance, is an example of a direct charity. Another example is a program that places volunteers in animal shelters, or one that pairs foster kittens with the perfect home. Any charitable organization in which the members directly interact with the group they seek to help is a direct charity.
The pros of advocacy charity start with power. Because resources are poured into communication avenues, an advocacy charity has the power to influence the minds of many people -- lawmakers and common folk alike. Advocacy charity makes changes at the macro level, which have long-lasting echoes into the future.
The pros of direct charity start with a personal touch and direct action. Armed with food, medical supplies, educational knowledge, or just a word and touch of kindness, direct charities make a direct impact into the lives of those they help. Direct charity can give people the leg up they need just in time for them to pull themselves up and get out of the rut they are in.
The biggest con of advocacy charity is the lack of human (or animal) connection. Sometimes, workers at an advocacy charity can get out of touch with their target group, if only because they have never really interacted with anyone in that group in a meaningful way.
The biggest con of direct charity is the lack of long-term impact. Sure, it's great to give someone a warm meal for a night, but if they are still out on the street because the laws remain the same, the charity will have to continue giving out those warm meals until something happens.
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