This Is the Best Way to Give Money to Charity

Image Credit: supersizer/E+/GettyImages

Americans have been getting more suspicious of philanthropists and big donors, whether their gifts are for a political cause or a personal one. The vast majority of us aren't named Sackler, Pritzker, Walton, Mercer, or Getty, which means our charitable giving is a little more circumspect. It's worth knowing what kind of donations will go the farthest for that kind of cash.

Phil Buchanan, director of the Center for Effective Philanthropy, spoke with MarketWatch about integrating charitable giving with your personal finance goals. One tip he suggests borrowing from the big donors: planning how and where you'll give. "Just say no when asked to make a contribution at the cash register, on the phone when it rings at dinner time, or on the sidewalk," he said. "Because if you respond just in the moment based on emotion or pressure, you will look back on your charitable contributions and they will feel random and not aligned with whatever thoughtful decision you made about your priorities."

One survey found that despite a decrease in overall charitable giving, lots of us would give to charity if we came by a financial windfall. If you're budgeting for a gift of any size, it's always worth talking to a tax or money professional, since the new tax code could present some complications. Even if you're not able to donate money, there are plenty of other ways to give back. Local organizations, more so than national ones, will always welcome in-kind or material support. Despite our skepticism, we do value helping out. Make sure you put your money where your heart is.