Step 1: don’t give to the Salvation Army. They value their hateful, bigoted, and ignorant religious agenda more than they value actually helping people.
Starting at the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency in 2001, the Salvation Army began lobbying for an exemption to equal labor practices for government-funded faith-based organizations. Why? Because the Salvation Army wanted to continue to discriminate against gays and prevent them from being hired.
In 2004, the Salvation Army threatened to close all its soup kitchens in the New York City area—which would have ended $250 million worth of contracts with the city—if they were forced to offer benefits to same-sex couples. This move would have lost the Salvation Army around $70 million in direct funding from the city and endangered the lives of several thousand people reliant on the Salvation Army.
Was this supposed to be a principled stand? All the homeless people receiving care from the Salvation Army would be turned out on the street. What would have motivated The Salvation Army to make such a callous move? They said that, by offering benefits to same sex couples, they’d be supporting HIV/AIDS because HIV/AIDS is only the product of homosexual intercourse.
AIDS? How does AIDS factor in? Oh yeah, I forgot! Gay people don’t suffer from non-gay sex related maladies. If a same sex couple needs health benefits, it must be from all that AIDS they’re spreading around. Is there any way to construe this as anything but bigotry?
There’s still more, too. The Salvation Army has repeatedly rallied against anti-discrimination laws involving hiring of homosexual employees. They’ve even tried to block a repeal of sodomy laws in New Zealand. And in Canada a few days ago, the Salvation Army turned down donations of Harry Potter and Twilight toys. The occult connotations of these toys, supposedly, is out of line with their Christian teachings. Harry Potter is Satanic? That’s a rather old-hat Evangelical argument, isn’t it?
For more information about the Salvation Army’s habit of disinterest in basic sense or public welfare, try here, here, here, or here. I mean, really. They’re called the Salvation Army. How big of a hint do you need that their first priority is being militant about their religion?
Step 2: hang on to that charitable feeling, and send a donation to an organization (or several) that will actually put your money to good use. Of the top of my head, I’d suggest Oxfam, Doctors Without Borders, or UNICEF. I’m also a big fan of Atheists Helping the Homeless in Austin, Texas.