Make Your Gift-Giving Count

However much you give this season, here’s how to make it count

Being in marketing, and knowing the “inventive” tendencies of many marketers, you develop certain tricks of discernment. You read labels. You inform yourself as to the differences in terms, such as “all-natural” and “organic” and “pure.” And when it comes to holiday giving, you don’t just write out checks to whatever organization sends a direct mailer your way. Sure, you may be aware that more than 1.4 billion people are living below the international poverty line of $1.25 a day, but just sending money into the void and hoping it does some good somewhere is not very satisfying.

Get the scoop on world charities

When you’re ready to give, whether it’s the $10 you saved by packing your lunch or larger amounts, avail yourself of the talents of some pretty smart ex-hedge-fund managers who started a research organization called Give Well. Give Well subjects non-profits and charitable organizations to a rigorous set of tests that determine just how your money gets used and how effective the organizations are in helping their cause. Be warned though, after rating hundreds of organizations, Give Well ( only recommends donating to about a dozen.

Here’s what a look at Give Well’s website will tell you:

  • What’s the organization’s cause?
  • How effective is the organization?
  • How transparent are they?
  • How big is the gap between their funding and their need?
  • How cost-effective are they?
  • How well do they monitor what happens to contributions?

Give Well provides direct links to the charities websites that receive high ratings and make donating a single click affair.

Not sure where to start?

This season, you won’t need to wonder whether your contributions and desires to do good are in fact “doing good.” Share from your abundant life by giving to organizations, like those listed on the site, that work hard to keep management costs in check and increase effectiveness.

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