Madison (WKOW) -- This is the time of year when you may want to dig into your pocket and give to the needy.
But with over a million charities to choose from, how do you select the best?
We have a few helpful rules in this It's Your Money report.
Before you donate to a cause, make sure the charity you choose is worthy of your money.
Ken Berger, the president and CEO of charitynavigator.org said, "the best way for people to come is they'll see right on the homepage a place where they can put in a key word for the kind of charity they want to give to, the name of a charity they're interested in looking up, and right on the top the first thing you see is a star rating. So you'll know if it's rated exceptional, good, or less than good."
Next, look to see how much money the charity spends on programs and services.
As a rule, focus on organizations that spend at least 75% on programs.
Janet Siroto, executive editor for Good Housekeeping, said, "another thing you might look for is the Better Business Bureau charity seal. And that tells you that a charity has been in business for at least two years, and that it meets the Better Business Bureau's stringent accountability standards. If you'd rather volunteer your time, a terrific site to go to is volunteermatch.org, and that will show you how you can find organizations in your area where you can give your time, and, in some cases, there are great virtual opportunities that you can even do from home."
You should make sure the group you want to help is tax-exempt, in order to claim a tax deduction.
Ask the group if it's what known as a 501(3)c charity.
If it is, you can take the write-off.