Who qualifies as a charity?
Typically any organization that has received their 501(c)(3) tax exempt status is a qualified charity, yet churches and other religious organizations might be exempt from this requirement. The term charities is all encompassing (like Kleenex or Linoleum) since several organizations and foundations exist to promote education, science, literary works, prevention of animal cruelty, etc.
At times it is easier to consider who is not a qualified charity- social and sport clubs, labor unions, chambers of commerce, groups ran for personal profit, lobbyists, HOAs, individuals and political groups, among others. In addition, the value of your time, services and blood, and the cost of raffle, bingo or lottery tickets are not considered charitable donations. These are specifically prohibited in IRS publications.
Foreign charities also do not qualify. The only exception is Canadian, Mexican and Israeli charities, but you generally must have foreign income in order to qualify for the deduction of these contributions.
Altruism is always important- unfortunately not all altruism is tax deductible.