There are many people who live by asking for money or by providing a small good/entertainment in exchange for whatever money you choose to give. It is my policy to never give money to a child or someone who is using a child to gain sympathy (different from someone simply being with their child while begging/selling/performing). My reason for this is that you do not know if that child is being exploited or if it is even the child of the person who is with them. I have read articles about children being hired out to people so that they can use their sympathy factor to earn more money, which makes me very cautious about this; I do not know how often this happens, but I prefer to play it safe.
If you come across someone who is asking for money and you want to help them in some other way because you are afraid of the money being misused, make certain that whatever you give can be used by someone who may have almost nothing in life. If you want to give food, make sure it is something that can be opened without tools and eaten without needing to heat it. If giving something you consider a necessity in terms of health/hygiene, ask yourself if they require something else to use it (such as running water for shampoo).
Questions for my Readers
What is your preferred method for giving money?
Do you ever give money to individuals rather than charities? Why or why not?
Do you give items other than money? If so, what items do you give?