You cannot deduct contributions made directly to a person or family, regardless of the person or family’s financial situation or health status.
If you give a used coat to a homeless person, you cannot deduct the value of the coat, but if you give a used coat to the Salvation Army or other charity that will give the coat to a homeless person, that is deductible.
Similarly, if you give money directly to a family whose house has burned down or been damaged by flooding, it is not deductible. To get a deduction you must give the money to a charity that provides disaster relief, such as the Red Cross.
You cannot deduct contributions to an organization created to lobby for changes to federal, state or local laws, or to political organizations and election campaigns.
You cannot deduct the value of blood you have donated.And, perhaps the most frequent mistake I have seen over the years: You cannot deduct the cost of raffle tickets as a charitable deduction, unless you give the ticket back to the charity so they can sell it again. When you buy a raffle ticket you are not making a donation; you are taking a chance on winning a prize. Raffle tickets can, however, be deducted as gambling losses if you are reporting gambling winnings.