charityThere are plenty of excellent reasons to find a good charity to support. Charitable giving is beneficial for your country and your community. Some people even say that charity is good for you health. Being generous with a portion of our own financial blessings is also a great American tradition.

Most of us already have specific charities which we like to support. For my household, we have given various gifts to The Arbor Day Foundation, our local volunteer fire fighters, local churches, and a smattering of other deserving causes. Most of our charitable gifts stay fairly close to home, but there are also many worthwhile national and international charities.

But how to decide which charity to support? How do you know a particular charity is trustworthy? Or responsible? Or actually helping the population you want to help? The answer to these questions are as close as your computer.

Charity Navigator is an intensively managed database of more than 5,300 of America's largest charitable organizations. The site, which was founded in 2001, provides all the information anyone would ever need to make a decision regarding charitable giving. Its staff examines the actual financial documents of charities and ranks the organizations, using easy to understand numerical values. Each charity is graded according to its fiscal responsibility and long term fiscal health.

At Charity Navigator you'll find ratings on organizations which fund everything from helping abused animals to researching breast health. You can read comments from individuals about their experiences with specific organizations. You'll find tips about how to make donations. You can learn about the tax benefits of charitable giving. You can also find out about how to deal with unwanted charity solicitations. The site even has it's own charity blog.

As we approach the season of giving, please think deeply about giving a gift to charity. You shouldn't have to look too hard to find an organization which you think is worthwhile. If you can't afford to make a donation in cash, don't feel bad. There are plenty of good causes which will gladly take a donation of your time. Remember that no matter how bad off you think you are, someone out there is hurting worse than you. Please take the time to reach out. You'll be glad you did.

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