Where does the money go?

When you write a check to a charity or donate online with a credit card, how do you know the organization is putting the money to good use? Here are three tips to make the giving to your favorite charities even better.

1. Give to what you know. 

Most Americans get the greatest joy from giving to causes with which they are personally familiar. This makes it easier to understand how the charity is using your dollars. So, for example, if you've had experience with helping foster children, you are likely to understand how the organization is using your donation to support training for foster parents. Or if someone in your family suffers from an eating disorder, you will understand what it means to give money to support an individual to receive an extra six weeks of treatment beyond what insurance will pay. And do not be afraid to ask! Most organizations are happy to share the tangible impact of your donation--whether it is $10, $100, $1000 or more. 

2. Give where you are. 

Many Americans support charitable causes overseas, and that is wonderful. But don't forget that sometimes the greatest needs are right here at home. Look for opportunities to support local charities who are celebrating year-end giving by offering information about the overall need, the mission they serve to meet that need, and the positive impact of a year end gift on the lives of others. When you give local, you are in a much better position to have confidence in your gift. 

3. Give to what you love. 

Above all, give to the charities you love. Gifts that are aligned with a passion and your own love of humanity carry the most energy and ultimately make the most difference. The bottom line is that giving should feel good. Certainly understanding how a charity is using the money is a part of that. But don't let that get in the way of doing good and enjoying every minute of it.