Next time you decide to a charity, do a little more than just pulling out your checkbook and signing your name. It’s important to keep in mind that you are giving your hard-earned money away to support a specific cause- not a particular organization’s overhead. If you want to make sure that your money is being utilized for the cause you want to support, check out these tips before blindly opening up your wallet.

  1. Find a cause you feel passionately about

Do your research and find a reputable organization working towards a cause you feel compelled to support. Talking to your friends and family and creating a “giving budget” can end up making a more significant difference than mindlessly dropping change into a collection bin.

  1. Organizations also invest in you

Remember that charities have to use a portion of your donation to fund themselves. Another thing to keep in mind is if they’re putting you on email lists, sending you complimentary materials or inviting you to special events, they are investing in you as well, and those things require financial assistance.

  1. Treat your donation as an investment

GuideStar will give you IRS and other financial reports of over 1 million nonprofits so you can do your research and feel confident about the organization you’re supporting. There isn’t anything wrong with wanting proof of your chosen organization’s good intentions. It is important to remember that a new organization will more than likely be working with higher overhead costs and to not write them off because of that.

  1. Ask others about their experiences

Asking the people around you about who they donate to is a great way to become more comfortable with your decision. You may even find out about new organizations you’ve never heard of. You can also look for interviews, videos and written recommendations if you have a specific charity in mind.

Once you find a charity you feel comfortable giving to, consider making it a long-term commitment. Over time, you’ll be able to see the impact of your donations and become part of a community that is dedicated to the betterment of our world.