Tuesday dedicated to charitable giving and green gifts

We’ve spent money for days shopping for those on our holiday wish list and perhaps ourselves as well. Now, it’s time to give back to our communities on “Giving Tuesday.” The holidays are about self-reflection and giving thanks for what you have and giving back to others. There are simple steps you can take to make sure your money is well spent.

If you’re not into giving back to others, how about giving a gift that is kind to the environment? Tuesday is also Green Tuesday, a day to promote green gift buying.

1. See how independent groups rank the charity
Charity Navigator – star system
Charity Guide from the Better Business Bureau

2. Look at the charity’s tax forms
Guidestar allows you to review the last few years of tax filings for the organization line by line. Registration is free and full of information about the charity including salaries paid to top administrators.

Some organizations are exempt from filing a tax form, so don’t assume something is amiss if you don’t find one.

You need to register with Guidestar for free to see the filings.

3. Check for state registration
Some states require the organization register with officials and there are searchable databases to check the validity of the charity.

Think  about someone else this holiday. There are so many people in need, and some companies will match your gift especially if it’s for an educational program.

I like Green Tuesday’s website. It reads, “Before you roll your eyes and murmur about another “retail” holiday, you should know that Green Tuesday was created by Green America, a non-profit group who advocates for a cleaner, greener world.” I’m sure some people will still be rolling their eyes at yet another holiday.

Green America urges you to buy local, which is really what Small Business Saturday promotes. The added component is that you’re also asked to keep the environment in mind.

What do you think of all these un-official shopping and giving holidays?