As we enter the holiday season, the spirit of giving is in full swing. As much as 70 percent of consumers report plans to engage in some charitable activity, whether that involves volunteering time or simply donating money. If you’re planning to give back over the holidays, it can be tough to determine where or how to give. To help you make those decisions, I’ve compiled a few tips to help you make sure your donations make a positive impact.

 

Choose Effective Charities

Nonprofits can be controversial. People wonder if their donations are actually helping people in need or if they are just padding paychecks for directors. There are online tools that can help you make sure a nonprofit is legitimate, and looking into their program-expense ratio can help you gauge how much of their income is actually used to support their cause. Charity Navigator is a great tool to help you either look into charities you’re already aware of or to find reputable organizations that you might be passionate about.

 

Research Needs

If you are interested in donating in ways other than monetarily, do your research beforehand. Food banks often find themselves inundated with a few specific items while lacking some key things their clients need. Other charities may have particular requirements for the kinds of items they can use or the condition that they are in. To avoid giving things that an organization already has or can’t use, check their website for guidelines or current needs, or consider calling and speaking to someone to ask what would be most helpful. 

 

Keep Records

Make sure to keep records of your giving if you want to claim it on your taxes. It can be challenging to acquire records after the fact, so save yourself time and headache by proactively recording your contributions and filing them away. 

 

The holidays are a great time to give back to your community and people in need, so hopefully, these tips can help you navigate the complicated world of nonprofits and make sure your donations are making an impact. If you don’t already have a cause that you’re excited about, I encourage you to find one this holiday season and consider extending your generosity beyond the season of giving!