How to Choose a Charity: To Whom Should You Give?

The holidays are definitely the perfect time to give, but to whom should you give? Choosing a charity, family or special group to offer financial aid is not the easiest decision in the world. Most of us moms have tender hearts towards children, especially at this time of year. Naturally, Kid's Activities blog is going to lean towards the charities that focus on enriching a child's special holiday.

You may wonder, Why should I give?

How to Choose a Charity - To Whom Should You Give - Kids Activities Blog

Your child is watching and imitating your lifestyle and financial choices.

Family financial legacy is something we hand down to our kids whether we think about it or not.  It is one of the reasons why we are so giddy about this money series on Kids Activities Blog, Creating family memories on a budget,  inspired and sponsored by  Dave Ramsey's Endorsed Local Providers  (ELP) program which can help you find trustworthy and competent investment advisors, realtors, insurance agents or tax services in your hometown.  You can sit down and create a custom financial plan with someone you are comfortable with and that your neighbors would recommend making it easier for you to set aside money for what is important to your family.

Here are some tips to help you sort through all the avenues of charitable giving for this special time of year.

30 Days of Thanks and Giving Calendar

How to Choose a Charity

Think local. If you do some research, there are probably some local children's homes, orphanages or child advocates in your area of town. Arrange to stop by for a visit.  Many of these places depend on donations to function, so they are more than willing to show you around. If you are pleased with the institution, speak with a leader about the home's most pressing needs or how you could provide Christmas gifts for the children. This is my favorite way to get my kids involved because they love picking out gifts and delivering them to other kids!

Choose what reflects your beliefs. Whenever you invest your time or money into something, you are giving your approval. Take time to research the charity, mission work or special fund before you give. Make sure the beliefs and policies reflect your family's moral standards.  One thing to check is how much of your donation will actually go to the cause you seek to support.

Think outside large organizations. There are many groups around the globe that are working to help others and could use your donation and charitable giving. Consider what your family thinks is most important – is it religion, family, children or healthy living? Once you have nailed down what your family feels is most passionate about, begin researching people and groups who work full-time in those areas. Check out their websites, affiliations and social media to get a real sense of what their goals and work is all about and who is involved.  You may find you have a closer connection to someone working on behalf of the group than you thought.  Contact that person for the real story.  Smaller mission groups tend to be over-looked and needier of your giving.

Consider your close friends and family. Before you give to a stranger, consider the needs of people with whom you already have a relationship. Perhaps a family member has been swamped with unforeseen medical bills. Or, maybe your best friend's husband just lost his job. Is your neighbor a single mom that is just scraping to get by?  A special need may be only a few footsteps away.  Although giving to friends and family doesn’t have the tax advantages, the rewards are of a different kind.

Choosing a Charity - Kids Activities Blog

If you are interested in larger organizations but are unsure which ones to trust, here are a few that have earned an honest reputation and have focused on helping kids during the holidays.

    • Angel Tree. This is a prison fellowship that strives to connect kids of prisoners with their children. They will host Christmas parties with the help of local church congregations and provide gifts for the kids.
    • Operation Christmas Child. This is a program in which you fill shoeboxes with school supplies, gifts and notes of hope and encouragement to children living all over the world.
    • Make-a-Wish Foundation. This amazing program focuses on granting children a special wish who live with life-threatening illnesses. Many children and their families have made unforgettable memories through the giving, planning and aid of Make-a-Wish Foundation.
    • Ronald McDonald House. This grassroots charity offers homes away from home to families that are receiving medical treatment far away from home. They strive to keep families together during the already emotional trying times of illness. Ronald McDonald House also offers mobile dental and medical clinics at affordable costs in certain areas.
    • Salvation Army. Financial reports show that the Salvation Army gives 96% of all received monies straight into the mission work. They focus on community centers, disaster relief programs and refugee camps.  I love that they will come pick up donations from the house eliminating any excuses not to give!

To whom should you give is a tough decision. Use your head and your heart as you choose a worthy need or desire to fulfill.  Setting aside money to give is easier when you have an investment plan in place.  Knowing that you are taking care of your family’s future financial needs can give you peace of mind and fuel a giving spirit.

Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers program can help you find an investment professional in your area to advise and guide you through the complications of an investment portfolio.  Don’t be intimidated by the amount you are starting to invest, everyone started with that first step!  These investment professionals are all screened, rated by your neighbors and have the heart of a teacher to help you reach your family’s goals – all in your hometown.

Thanks so much to the Endorsed Local Providers for sponsoring Kids Activities Blog and inspiring this series on creating family memories on a budget.  Last week we chatted about 12 Ways Moms Can Make Money from Home During the Holidays and check back next Sunday for a family activity that can show your kids how financially blessed they are in a tangible way.

Do you have a favorite charity?


  1. Alaina Bullock says:

    Although I think all of these are great charities, my favorite is the Make A Wish Foundation. I love to see hoqw they make a difference in a child’s life!

    1. Oh, I adore them too! An amazing way to make something good out of a terrible situation.

    1. They are amazing at making it easy to give. They are EVERYWHERE over the holidays and will come to your house if you ask!

    1. There was a Ronald McDonald House near the hospital I used to work at – the stories that came out of there were simply inspiring. I need to check into World Vision!

  2. On a larger level, I like The Red Cross. They make such a big impact in so many ways. On a local level, I love a charity in our state called The Crusade for Children.

    1. Doesn’t the reach of The Red Cross blow your mind? They seem to always be in the middle of a catastrophe.

  3. We pack boxes for Operation Christmas Child. The kids love being involved in choosing things for other children in need. We also try to help other families locally by making meals, loaning needed items until they get back on their feet, and giving away our items we no longer need instead of selling them for money.

    1. I need to go see where our local drop offs are for Operation Christmas Child! The boys always love doing that {me too}!

  4. We usually do the Angel Tree or Sub for Santa. I’ve also been impressed with my children’s teachers who have chosen to do service projects in place of classroom parties.

    1. One of my sons’ classrooms do that – last year they bought a goat for a village. The kids thought it was the greatest thing.

    1. Amen to that!!! Supporting something that you absolutely see the impact they make every day is a great, great idea.

  5. We do Toys For Tots & the Angel Tree each year and donate to Big Brothers & Big Sisters throughout the year. We also donate monthly to our local food pantry!

    1. I love how Big Brothers & Big Sisters has some of the most creative fundraisers – they are so win/win, you don’t even feel like you donated money.

  6. When I had a full-time job, I did a few kids on one of our local church’s Angel Tree each year. I didn’t have any kids of my own and I had money to spend on Christmas gifts for kids who needed things to open Christmas morning. That is by far my favorite charity to donate to.

  7. One of my fave charities is this local food pantry. I buy canned goods on sale and donate knowing they’ll go to someone in need.

    1. I had the pleasure of touring several of the pantries in my area, and they are huge, so organized and do so much good. There is NO waste which is such a testament to what can be accomplished.

    1. Oh good one! I hadn’t thought about that, but we adore our local shelter. They also will take donations of pet supplies – when our dog passed away, it was so nice to see the dog house, leash and left over food do some good. The kids felt better giving it to a dog in need!

  8. My favorite charity is Village of Hope Orphanage in the Philippines. You can find out more about them at I llike God’s Kids because they do checks on all of the orphanages that they support, and they have stringent requirements for them. Village of Hope is Orphan care inside a family. Once the Kids are taken to Village of Hope, they are not given away again. Parents agree to spend the rest of their lives with the Kids and Kids who graduate come back for all kinds of occassions. It is a beautiful program. This week one of the house parents is going to Leyte for the typhoon relief efforts and to do search and rescue. Please pray for the Philippines.

    1. Oh wow! Thanks for informing me, Kim. That sounds amazing.

  9. Thanks for the post! Over the past few days I was wondering what charitible experience I could do with the kids. I think we are going to try the operation christmas shoebox! Thanks!

    1. They will love it. It is such an easy and fun thing to do with kids.

  10. The Salvation Army is very special to our family. Many years ago our family fell upon some hard times and the Salvation Army stepped in to help pay our electric bill. We felt supported by them and they were so uplifting in our time of need. Years later as we became financially secure, we re-paid the Salvation Army back the amount of our electric bill with a note of gratitude. Now every year especially at Christmas my kids donate toys and money to help this great organization.

    1. I LOVE that Ronda!!! What an amazing story. So often we think of those large charities as faceless, but they impact REAL awesome people.

  11. I am big on the Big Brothers/Big Sisters organization. I currently volunteer as a Big Sister through our local school based program and I get to physically see the impact the fundraising for BBBS has on these children. It’s pretty amazing. I love that so much of what I give/do stays local and isn’t going to pay big overheads or salaries. Thats important to me.

    1. Me too. I am not a big fan of donating money that goes anywhere EXCEPT to help out.

  12. Our church started a home for unwed mother’s, and any time I am able to I donate to that.
    Such an important matter!

    1. The town my mom lives in has something like that which was so fun to giveaway the left-over baby stuff and the things my kids grew out of. To see it make an impact near her was such a good feeling.

  13. Renee Wright says:

    I guess I would have to say Operation Christmas Child. We did this a couple years ago in our church and it turned out great. It was so much fun getting the kids involved in helping and giving. My 4 kids loved doing it and want to do it again.

  14. one time i helped feed the homeless i dont know if that is a charity but it made me feel good inside

  15. My favorite charity is the Sharing Center at a local church. Two local high schools do food drives for it every year, and I volunteer there as well. It’s a great resource to have so close to home. You would be surprised, in a fairly affluent community, how full of clients it gets.

    1. That is like our community. I was horrified to find out how many homeless teenagers were in our area – my guess would have been a handful because it is an affluent suburb, but that is absolutely not the case. So sad. There is a local church that does amazing things for them.

    1. Oh thanks for bringing up Autism Speaks – I have heard such good things about them.

  16. There are so many!! But currently my faves to donate to are The Mormon Church, The National Alopecia Areata Foundation, and Operation Smile.

  17. Sheila K. says:

    My favorite charity is the National Parkinson Foundation!

  18. My Church has many different outreach and mission oriented ministries that I donate to, also Operation Christmas Child, Angel Tree Ministries and our local Christian Radio Station are just a few of our favorites.

  19. Colleen Fuller says:

    The women’s shelters and Mooseheart! All local! Helping people.

  20. Michelle B says:

    Ronald McDonald House. I work in a pediatric cardiology office and have to set up patients regularly with our local Ronald Mcdonald house and they are really a life saver for some of our families that are coming from far away to be able to stay in town while their child has a procedure done.

  21. My favorite charity is American Cancer Society. My family has been affected by cancer and I think this charity is awesome because it raises money to go towards cancer research. Not only does my mom work for ACS, my dad has his own battle with prostate cancer.

  22. Tara Gauthier says:

    I like to donate to the Children’s Hospital in my province. My daughter receives services from them as they have travelling clinics to my community where doctors she sees come to my city to save families from travelling. And many of my friends make use of their services both when they come to our city and travelling for surgery.

  23. Melissa Hartley says:

    My favorite charity is The American Cancer Society or The Humane Society
    Thank you

  24. I always give to our local soup kitchen that feeds the homeless and is run by the sisters of st. joseph.

  25. Lindsey C. says:

    It can be so hard to choose, my favorite is our local Humane Society just because I do a lot of volunteering for them and see firsthand how much difference donations make!

  26. At this time of the year we donate to Toys for Tots and I like to help promote them at the local level. There are few people that I know that don’t have a story about how Toys for Tots saved Christmas for their kids at one time in their life- I also support Seacoast for a Cure, a NH breast cancer support group/non-profit and nationally, the American Red Cross.

  27. I like to give to Operation Christmas Child. I started that when I was little!

  28. debra daigle says:

    We usually choose an Angel Tree Child to sponsor. This year we are donating to the local homeless shelter. They are in desperate need of funding.

  29. Our family supports Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. They provide fresh produce and pantry staples to 18,000+ people per month, and also teach parenting classes, ESL classes, and give computer training!

  30. St. Jude’s Children Hospital, and my local humane society

  31. I love the suggestion Think Local. Our family is very connected with Texas Baptist Home and we choose to partner with them during the holidays to donate clothing/electronics/gifts for older kids& teens during the holidays.

  32. Amber Rist says:

    I like my local charity, astoria rescue mission. they do a lot and not a lot of people know about them!

  33. Danalee Davis says:

    Fast offerings for my church because they help everyone around the world.

  34. We donated to Angel Tree every year when I was a kid. I think that had a profound impact on my giving now! I try to focus on children’s charities and also like Toys for Tots.

  35. I have 2 favorites..locally there is a thrift store run by the area churches and I donate tons of clothes, toys, etc…and the American Cancer Society has the other part of my heart.

  36. Denise Donaldson says:

    I like Make a wish foundation

  37. Linda Petteys says:

    My local favorite charity is the Salvation Army and my worldwide charity is Samaritans Purse.

  38. sally guenterberg says:

    Right now my favorite charity is my church. They work so hard researching the charities before we work with them and support them and I appreciate them doing the initial legwork.

  39. I honestly don’t know if I could pick just one favorite charity. My favorite “style” charitable giving is going to local carnivals, dinners, etc that are thrown by local people to raise money for individual causes. I love, love participating and donating to those types!

  40. I like Operation Christmas Child because it reaches out to those that are in the most desperate of locations and provides them with something during Christmas. We’ve participated at our local church the last several years and it’s a lot of fun.

  41. I love the Make a Wish Foundation. It’s amazing <3

  42. I like Make a Wish Foundation, they do wonderful things for the kids who really need a little more happiness and hope.

  43. My mom is a breast cancer survivor so I like to contribute to her “team” when I can

  44. Stephanie Belmarez says:

    Usually a “favorite” charity is something that has helped you in the past. That holds true for me as my favorite charity is the Army Emergency Relief. We had to call upon them in times of need to come home on a Red Cross call when our family was in turmoil and pain. We’ve donated in the past, and hope to donate again soon.

  45. My favorite “charity” to give to is the Air Force Aid Society and Wounded Warrior Project. I come from a long line of military and I love giving back!

  46. My favorite charity is the make a wish foundation! I think it’s good for kids who haven’t explored the world to get a chance to do so. And I read The Fault in Our Stars, and it made me tear up. But it was a good reason for people to give to that charity!

  47. jennifer dunkelmann-hon says:

    Susan g komen breast cancer research my mother in law had it and they helped her outt a bunch.

  48. melissak3 says:

    i donate several times a year including gifts every year for the mothers for christmas .. to a local abused womans shelter

  49. I like the Ronald McDonald house. If it wasn’t for them, my cousins wouldn’t have had a place to stay while their daughter was in the hospital after she was born.

  50. I like supporting Habitat for Humanity. I have volunteered in their ReStore each Thursday the past year and really feel like I’m making a difference. It’s kinda fun having “coworkers” too, since I usually work solo from home!

  51. local food banks, veterans groups, and toy funds get the items where they NEED to be!

  52. ellen casper says:

    Wounded Warrior Project

  53. Ronald McDonald House. It always have a special place with me. My parents had to stay there when I was younger.

  54. Most of our charity money goes towards supporting family members that are missionaries in India, but I also like to give to St. Jude’s and Salvation Army. I have given money to Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Smile Train as well.

  55. Amanda Rauch says:

    I like to donate to the salvation army. they help so many families on a daily basis!

  56. I like to support charities that share my values. I’ve been a long-time supporter of Focus on the Family, because I believe families are very important to society – and they are under attack in today’s society. In the past, I’ve also supported our local Pregnancy Crisis Centers (moms need support during unplanned pregnancies) and our local church.

  57. Dawn Sterner says:

    My favorite charity is Make-a-Wish Foundation.

  58. Pancreatic Cancer Network. I lost my mom to the disease when I was 9 years old.

  59. I like to support animal shelters because they aren’t the ones responsible for where they are, they cannot help themselves and they are often forgotten.

  60. I’m a big fan of Hosts for Hospitals. They were such a big help to me.

  61. We typically stick to the church, but also I put back some of my company’s profits each year to donate to crowdfunding efforts from small businesses in need.

  62. I like to find people locally who are struggling. Freecycle, or Facebook groups. I belong to one called Helpful Neighbors of NWA, there are some wonderful people in there. They’ve helped me & I have returned the favor.

  63. I am prone to ask my ecclesiastical leader for a family in our church that could use help for Christmas. The we can provide them a Christmas or ask family members to help us provide them a good Christmas.

  64. This post is perfect since theme is all about saving money so you can give more . . . and I LOVE the fact that you suggested looking right around you for places to give.

    We generally find families we can help personally – even if it is frequently anonymous – I feel like it’s really helpful for the kids to be able to participate hands on.

  65. Samaritan’s Purse Operation Christmas Child is probably my favorite. We involve our kids in picking out items and packing the shoeboxes. They each get their own box to pack. We talk about why we chose the items we did and why that item would be important and/or fun to the child we are sending it to. It helps teach the boys the joy of giving and to be blessing to others as we have been so richly blessed.

  66. We tend to give to charities that have a local impact whether they are large national charities or not and our whole family gets involved. We donate actual items along with our time or money: our church, Boys & Girls Club, The Pet Place (local no kill shelter), local Food Bank, East Texas Help (local charity), the Ronald McDonald House, COTA (Children’s Organ Transplant Association) and anywhere that God lays on our hearts to help meet a need.

  67. One of our favorite charities is The Ronald McDonald House.

  68. I love Heifer International. It’s easy to explain to kids and I like the pass it on requirement so it helps entire communities even if it starts with just one person.

  69. Our favorite charities locally are the Open Door Mission (Omaha) and the Food Pantry.
    Globally we support Compassion International (can’t say enough good about this organization, they are really wonderful), Operation Christmas Child and the Voice of Martyrs.

  70. I love being able to give back to my church. My church has a bunch of outreach programs that help all different areas from locally to fall away in Africa.

  71. I like to donate to the Humane Society. Even our furry, four-legged friends need love!

  72. I try to donate to a local salvation army or even to another local thrift store.

  73. I am partial to the United Way of Salt Lake. Your donation goes 100% to where you want it because they have partners covering their admin costs. Love it!

  74. I actually have two favorite charities! The first is Charity: Water, and the second is Child’s Play.
    Child’s Play helps hospitals get games and other fun things for children who are in with serious illnesses/conditions who need a pick me up.

  75. Make a Wish Foundation, and an Orlando based charity that works with Make a Wish for families going to Disney, it is Give Kids The World. I’ve volunteered here and it is an amazing experience!

  76. I like to give to Autism Awareness and/or Breast Cancer

  77. I love giving to the Make A Wish Foundation and the March of Dimes during their telethon each year. There are numerous other charities that I support as well throughout the year either monetarily or helping to raise awareness for the great work that they do.

  78. Sherry Fowler says:

    In addition to the Angel Tree, we donate to a local charity called the Empty Stocking Fund and the money collected goes to the children that are in Foster care; they are taken shopping to pick out their gifts and they really enjoy it

  79. I like animal charities, such as the Humane Society of Pensacola. They’re a great place to give time as well as cash.

  80. I like how you said that considering the needs of your friends and family. Our family has been thinking of donating to a children’s charity. Thanks for the tips on how to choose a charity to donate to.

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