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Giving back this holiday season

By Rachel Parodneck, LMSW


‘Tis the season of giving. So many people and organizations are struggling right now to stay afloat. If you are lucky enough to be doing okay financially, and are able to donate at all, now is the time! But navigating all of your philanthropic options can be daunting. There are an endless amount of nonprofits and it can be tricky finding out which one will make the best use of your hard earned dollars.

Where do you even start?

This is where Charity Navigator comes in., aka “your guide to intelligent giving” is the world’s largest and most trusted nonprofit evaluator on a mission to help ensure your giving is informed & impactful.

As you plan to support the causes close to your heart, use Charity Navigator’s tools & resources to guide your giving. This site rates charities on a 4 star scale. It also has tools you can use such as: flagging organizations of interest (both rated and unrated) in your own charity “portfolio,” comparing charities using side-by-side comparisons, and viewing historical ratings and financial data for each rated charity.

Whether or not you use the site, Charity Navigator identifies 5 steps to informed giving:

  1. Be proactive in your giving: Start by identifying which causes are important to you, and be specific about the impact you want your donation to have.
  1. Research before giving: begin to narrow down your list of charities by conducting some basic research. Make sure the organization you are supporting is a public charity by looking for their EIN. Look at the charity’s finances and ensure the org is accountable and transparent.
  1. Discuss results and impact: A charity’s ability to bring about long-lasting and meaningful change in the world is the key reason for their existence and for your donation. Before making a contribution, talk with the charity to learn about its accomplishments, goals, and challenges.
  1. Consider the way you give: You’ve done your due diligence, so trust the charity to determine how best to spend your contribution. Giving without strings attached (through unrestricted donations), provides the charity the flexibility it needs to respond to changing demands for its services.
  1. Follow your investment: Remember to follow up with the charity in six months to a year to find out how they’re using your money. You’re not looking for a list of itemized expenses, but instead a progress report to give you a sense of how responsive they are to you and if they can clearly communicate their progress.


For more on informed giving, check out

And you can find top 5 giving strategy tips here:

If giving back financially is an option, thank your lucky stars! Let’s make this holiday season one to remember.