The holidays are a wonderful time to reflect on the abundance in our lives. As people contemplate their own good fortunes, they are often inspired to give to charities. Being generous with money is an admirable quality, and the world always needs givers. For contributions to do their best, a bit of due diligence on the part of the donor is necessary. By implementing a few guidelines, supporters can ensure their holiday giving is utilized in the best manner possible. Here are a few “best practices” to help donors give effectively:

Do Research on the Charity

It is critical to ensure that the charity is reputable, reliable, and honest. Fortunately, there are a variety of websites that help with making determinations about nonprofits. Some of these include:

Charity Navigator: charities are given stars based on their efficiency, transparency, and accountability on this website

GuideStar: users can confirm that a charity is an exempt 501(c)(3) using this database

GiveWell: this website works on global issues and lists the most effective ones.

Trust and Empower the charity to do the Work

When you give to a charity, especially if it is a larger donation, allow them to use the money as they deem necessary. Try not to put restrictions or guidelines on your monetary gift, as that can keep the charity from acting in the most effective way to solve the issue. Similarly, if you gave a gift months ago for a specific cause (such as building an elephant enclosure or providing Sunday dinners for the homeless), check with the charity and see if the issue has been resolved. If it hasn’t, consider giving another gift to assist with the same project. Continued support is vital for charities to maintain their focus and complete their goals.

Give as Generously as you Can

It is impossible to give to every cause that we encounter, especially during the holidays. Our mailboxes and social media feeds are filled with appeals from needy causes. However, after doing the research and searching for the causes that mean the most to us, it is important to give as generously as you can. Whether that is five dollars or five million dollars, the act of giving changes both the giver and the recipient, allowing us all to feel more gratitude.

As you engage in philanthropic giving this holiday season, follow the above tips to make the most of your donations!