Definition of charity noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈtʃærəti//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈtʃærəti//
    (pl. charities) Helping others
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  1. 1  [countable] an organization for helping people in need Many charities sent money to help the victims of the famine. The concert will raise money for local charities. Wordfinderbeg, benefit, charity, homeless, hostel, the poor, poverty, shanty town, sweatshop, unemployment CulturecharitiesCharities are independent organizations that help the poor, the homeless, children, old people and animals. They are involved with human rights, education, medical research and conservation of the environment. Many of them began in the time before governments provided any social services, when poor people had to turn to charitable organizations for help. Charities rely on money given by the public, and on help from volunteers in fund-raising and carrying out their activities. Many charities that are now well known throughout the world, such as Oxfam and Amnesty International, began in Britain. In Britain organizations qualify for charitable status if they are established for the 'public good'. Many charities ask well-known people, including members of the royal family, to become their patrons. Charities do not pay tax on the money they receive, but they are not allowed to make a profit.Charities in Britain are not allowed to take part in political activity, so some set up a separate pressure group which campaigns on related issues. The Charity Commission keeps a list of charities and advises them. The Charities Aid Foundation provides services to charities and helps people to donate (= give) to them. Well-known charities working in Britain include Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation, which pays for research into heart disease, Barnardo's and Shelter.In the US religious organizations have traditionally received most money from the public, but their share has fallen recently. The next largest area is Education. Well-known charities include the Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the United Negro College Fund, which helps African Americans get an education, and the American Cancer Society. Local charities operate shelters for the homeless and soup kitchens where poor people can eat free.A lot of the work done by charities in the US, such as caring for the poor or providing education, is done in other countries by the government. Americans have a strong belief that, if possible, private groups, not the government, should do this work.A traditional method of raising money is to organize a flag day. Volunteers stand in busy streets asking members of the public to put money in a collecting tin. In exchange, they are given a paper sticker, formerly a small paper flag with a pin through it, with the charity's name on it. This is sometimes called 'tin-rattling'. The British Legion's flag day, called Poppy Day, has become a feature of British life.Nearly every town in Britain has several charity shops. These are run by volunteer staff and sell second-hand clothes, books and household goods at low prices in aid of charity. Some shops, e.g. Oxfam shops, also sell goods made by people who are benefiting from the charity's work. At Christmas, people often buy charity cards, cards sold in aid of charity. Charity shops (AmE thrift shops) are less common in the US, but include shops run by the Salvation Army and Goodwill.In recent years, the telethon has proved an effective method of fund-raising. During an evening of popular television programmes, television stars ask the public to telephone and pledge (= promise) money to the charities involved. The Comic Relief evening in Britain and the muscular dystrophy telethon in the US (the MDA Show of Strength) are famous. Other fund-raising activities include fêtes (= outdoor sales of craftwork, plants, etc.) and jumble sales (= sales of second-hand goods). Sponsored walks, cycle rides, even parachute jumps, where people agree to give money to a person completing a task, are also popular. At Christmas or Thanksgiving, schools and churches organize collections of food, called food drives in the US, for old people and the poor.An important source of funds for charities in Britain is the National Lottery, which gives a proportion of its income to 'good causes'.In both Britain and the US many workers have money taken from their pay and sent to charity. This is called payroll giving. Some companies in the US hold fund-raising drives, in which different parts of the company compete to see which of them pledges the most money. The the United Way of America, a national organization that collects money to give to small local charities, benefits from this. As in Britain, many people leave money to charity in their will. It is also common, when somebody dies, for the family to ask people to send a contribution to a charity instead of sending flowers to the funeral. See related entries: Helping others
  2. 2  [uncountable] the aim of giving money, food, help, etc. to people who are in need Most of the runners in the London Marathon are raising money for charity. Do you give much to charity? a charity concert (= organized to get money for charity) to live on/off charity (= to live on money which other people give you because you are poor) Wordfinderappeal, benefit, charity, collection, donation, fundraiser, handout, telethon, volunteer, welfare See related entries: Helping others
  3. 3[uncountable] (formal) kindness and sympathy towards other people, especially when you are judging them Her article showed no charity towards her former friends.
  4. Word Originlate Old English (in the sense ‘Christian love of one's fellows’): from Old French charite, from Latin caritas, from carus ‘dear’.Extra examples She runs a charity for homeless young people. The school raised a lot of money for charity. The school raised over a hundred pounds for charity. They are proud people who don’t accept charity. They have no money and are forced to live on charity. a charity for sick children He refused to live off charity. He replied patiently, with more charity than I deserved. Most of the runners in the London Marathon are raising money for charity.Idioms (saying) you should help and care for your own family, etc. before you start helping other people
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: charity