Holiday tips for knowing how to donate to charities wisely

November 28, 2007

We all have inner Mother Teresa’s in all of us. God bless her soul. Interestingly, the holidays trigger our generous instincts more than any time of the year. Don’t know why, really, maybe because of the Santa Clause influence or the vibes of the Christmas carols. Reality is, we all feel like we have to give something back to the society more than ever at the last month of the year.

But not being the Mr. Grinch here, or in my case, Ms. Grinch, we all need to make wise decisions in donating our hard-earned money to charities. Have come up with a few but relevant tip offs so that we can give what is due to those who truly deserve it

Holiday tip number one: Know your cause.

First, discern what cause do you really, really want to support. It would be really senseless to give if you’ll just give just for kicks or because most people are doing it. You have a cause. You worked hard for that. By knowing the cause you want to support, then it will be easier to find the specific charitable institution or institutions for that matter.

Holiday tip number two: Go with Google

Google can give you lots of results when you search for charities to sponsor. But how can you tell if you’re giving to a worthy charity? The authority charity portals include,, and They all have lists of legit charities.

Holiday tip number three: Know where your money goes

What is being implied here is know how you’re money will be spent. You may slap to my face that, hey, of course it goes to the beneficiaries. Light bulb moment here, charities are organizations, they have operating expenses as well in order to serve their causes. A charity that allots at least 80% of your donation to programs should be your charity of choice. This means that most of your donation will actually go directly to the charity’s programs for the cause.

Holiday tip number four : As for the 990

The 990 form is an IRS form containing all the necessary legal information about the charity that you’re eyeing for. This form gives you a clear picture of what the charity actually does, how stable they, how they invite resources, the status of their reserves, and if they have any record with the BBB. Asking for this form makes you feel secure knowing that you’re dealing with a fraud charity.

Holiday tip number five: Give them a call

Make sure that they have an enlisted contact number and that the area code matches their registered address. Calling them and hearing a person’s voice on the other line makes will validate their existence. Also, calling them lets you digest more information about the charity thus will make you feel that they are the worthiest to receive your sponsorship or donation.

Yes, I know, we give to charities without expecting any returns. But the joys of giving can never be measured nor returned. What’s important is that you give, period. Doesn’t have to be the season of giving for you to give, but should be when our help are needed.