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'Tis the season: A guide to giving back during the holidays

This Thanksgiving, families will gather around dining tables and living rooms to reflect on the things they are most grateful for. Many of us will be inspired to “pay it forward,” passing along our good fortune to those in need by making a charitable donation to a nonprofit organization. But with so many charities to choose from, it can be difficult to decide which cause is most worthy of support. Mark Sandel, LMSW, professor and director of the TWU social work program, has a few recommendations for those wanting to give back during the holidays:

  • Look for charities that reflect your personal values and interests.
    Whether you’re passionate about environmental conservation, animal welfare, veterans’ assistance programs or feeding the hungry, you’ll find a number of nonprofits working in support of your chosen cause.

  • Consider making a cash donation instead of giving holiday gifts or “in kind” donations.
    Donated funds can be used at the discretion of your chosen charity to make much-needed purchases, whereas gifts or in kind donations may become surplus items by the end of a holiday drive.

  • Research the amount of the organization’s budget that goes to actual services as opposed to administrative costs.
    Online resources such as Give.org, CharityNavigator.org and CharityWatch.org evaluate nonprofits and provide tools that can help you select a charity that uses its donations effectively.

  • Be wary of purchase-driven charitable campaigns.
    If a corporation promises to give a non-specific portion of the proceeds to a nonprofit, consider researching the organization yourself and, if they are highly rated, donate money directly via check or online payment.

  • Consider making a monthly donation, in addition to your holiday gift.
    Nonprofits see an increase in support during the holiday season, but must continue to operate on donated funds throughout the year. If you find a charity that you’re passionate about and enjoy giving to, you might consider committing to an ongoing monthly gift.

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Anna Ryan

Page last updated 11:20 AM, June 11, 2019