Yesterday I was thinking about donating some money to charity who help people. But at the same time a thought come that if that money will be used for things other than help, say in bad things, then am I responsible for that bad karma done by the charity? And if the money is used in good way, then again upto which level am I responsible for that good karma?
Donation is a very good thing, in fact a man should donate 1/3 of his earnings. According to Gurus, charity is not only good karma but it brings a lot of peace inside. A person donating to get good karma will not get the fruits of his deed. But,if you do it selflessly or unconditionally i,e. not expecting a return out of it, then, the good karma is stored.
Intention is key here. If your intention is good, then good karma will come, but if your intention is bad or conditional, then your good karma will not become active.
Yes, donation is a good karma. In fact donation or charity is the primary virtue of this age of kali:
tapaḥ paraṃ kṛtayuge tretāyāṃ jñānaṃ ucyate
dvāpare yajñaṃ evāhurdānaṃ ekaṃ kalau yuge [Manu - 1.86]
Austerity is the supreme virtue in the age of Satya and jnana (knowledge) is said to be supreme in Tretaya. Yajna is supreme in the age of Dwapara and dana alone in the Kali age.
But even if donation by default is a good karma and awards punya, the result of donation actually depends upon the cause for which the money is donated. For example, someone may donate money without expecting anything in return to support a party or organisation which does bad works or harms others with that money. Then by the law of karma one will get the corresponding negative effects instead of acquiring merit. So it is the responsibility of the donor to see whether he is donating to the right person or organisation and whether his intentions for donating are also good. Hence, depending upon these dana becomes of three kinds which Shri Krishna explains as below in the Gita:
Satvic Dana (when done to right person without expecting anything, gives no results)
Charity given out of duty, without expectation of return, at the proper time and place, and to a worthy person is considered to be in the mode of goodness. [BG - 17.20]
Rajasic Dana (when done to right person with expectations of return, punya, etc. )
But charity performed with the expectation of some return, or with a desire for fruitive results, or in a grudging mood is said to be charity in the mode of passion. [BG - 17.21]
Tamasic Dana (when done to wrong person in wrong way, can give negative results)
And charity performed at an impure place, at an improper time, to unworthy persons, or without proper attention and respect is said to be in the mode of ignorance. [BG - 17.22]
In Kali Yuga however people are very much greedy and don't donate or donate very little. So even if donation is done to a wrong person unknowingly, this act of donation certainly does something good for the donor and at the least makes him a little free from greediness. Hence, saint Tulsidas writes in the Ramcharit Manas:
प्रगट चारि पद धर्म के कलि महुँ एक प्रधान।
जेन केन बिधि दीन्हें दान करइ कल्यान।। [RCM - 7.103]
There are four legs of dharma (satya, daya, tapa, dana), and in Kali one is the chief. Donation done in whatever way and in whatever form always causes benefit.
Satvic Dana is that which is done from a sense of duty (dātavyam iti yad dānaṁ) without expectations hence it becomes karma yoga and doesn't bind the person with papa or punya.