Giving Tuesday: 7 tips on how to be smart about charitable donations

Make sure you're being smart about who you give to this holiday season

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are over, it's time for Giving Tuesday -- the annual campaign focused on generosity.

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According to the Giving Tuesday website, the movement was created in 2012 as a way to "[encourage] people to do good."

"Over the past seven years, this idea has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity," the website says. "GivingTuesday strives to build a world in which the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of the society we build together, unlocking dignity, opportunity, and equity around the globe."

A Salvation Army bell ringer greets shoppers. (Gary Krambeck/The Dispatch via AP, File)

The day even has presidential approval.

"On #GivingTuesday, we are reminded of the abundant blessings that God has placed in our lives, and we recommit to answering His call to help those in need through acts of compassion and generosity," President Trump said in a statement Tuesday. "Together, we are able to support extraordinary and worthy causes while also enriching the lives of our fellow Americans."

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However, with countless charities asking you for money over the phone, online and in your social media feed, it can be difficult to sift through everything and figure out what organizations you want to give to -- and if they're legitimate.

To help you out, here are some tips for how to be smart about where and how you’re donating this season, according to Money Talks News and The Balance Small Business.

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Give to a cause you're passionate about

Because there really are countless charities and organizations to choose from, one of the things that will help you narrow them down is to pick a cause you feel strongly about, Money Talks News suggests.

Think local

By giving to local charities, you’ll be able to see the results of your giving and how those organizations are helping your community, The Balance says.

And since they’re close by, you’ll be able to get to know the organizations a bit better than if you gave to a national or international organization, though there’s nothing wrong with giving to a larger-scale organization, either.

Give to organizations you've already given to

If you’ve given to charities already this year for emergencies or disasters, The Balance suggests giving a bit more to them, because even after the event itself, many of those organizations still need support during the recovery period.

Check that the charity isn't a scam, and uses donations for the actual cause

With lots of social media campaigns and phone calls, it can get difficult trying to figure out who’s legit and who’s just a scammer. Thankfully, there are several organizations that can help you check in on organizations you might want to donate to.

Money Talks News recommends Charity Navigator, GuideStar and Give.org, which is run by the Better Business Bureau. The website also suggests making sure that any charity you’re thinking of giving to actually spends its money on the cause and not excessive administrative expenses.

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Concentrate your finances

Even though you might want to donate a little bit to many organizations, Money Talks News says that processing costs could make your already-small donation less effective. Instead, the website suggests giving a bit more to fewer charities.

Don't donate to telephone solicitors

According to Money Talks News, phone charity scams often use names that are similar to prominent organizations or they use emotional requests to get you to send them money.

Instead, you should donate to organizations directly.

Volunteer

Giving your time is also a great way to help different organizations and will get you more involved in the cause. Money Talks News suggests thinking about what skills you might be able to offer, like web design.