donateAs cheesy as it sounds, giving is truly the reason for the season. I really love donating to a good cause throughout the year, but now that I have kids, holiday charities tug at my heartstrings even more. I can’t even imagine some kid not getting a gift on Christmas or not having food to eat on a holiday like Thanksgiving.

Of course, you don’t have to have kids to give to a charity. You just have to have a heart, people! So, we all agree that giving is good—but there is a catch… What about those jerkhole charities that are either total scammers or siphon all their donations to pay for a CEO’s summerhouse in the Maldives? The most recent scammer story to make headlines was of the viral poverty mom that received close to $62,000 in donations via GoFundMe.

If you’re anything like me, you’re gonna want to do your charity research before you plunk down some cold hard Christmas cash. You can check out a few resources, like BBB Wise Giving Alliance Accredited Charities and CharityNavigator.org. You can also consult the non-scammer charity list below to get some ideas. ‘Tis the season!

1.    Big Brothers/Big Sisters of America

Big Brothers Big Sisters has an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy. You can support them by donating or volunteering to give a little bro or sis a sense of family during the holidays—and the rest of the year too.

2.    Coalition for the Homeless

Homelessness is a year-round issue, and it becomes even more heartbreaking around the holidays. The Coalition for the Homeless has a Holiday Toy Drive leading up to Christmas and is also rated A- by the American Institute of Philanthropy.

3.    Crossroads Urban Center

Crossroads Urban Center of Salt Lake City, Utah, provides those in need with an “alternative to poverty” during the holiday season (and the rest of the year too). Bonus: The organization’s non-greedy CEO only makes $57,000 a year.

4.    First Book

I’m a big supporter of First Book myself because I love reading and writing, durr. 97 cents of every dollar donated goes to providing kids with books to promote literacy and a love of reading. Also, you should donate because Oprah says so—First Book was recommended by O Magazine.

5.    GiveDirectly

GiveDirectly is a brilliant concept that allows you to give directly to the “poorest possible households” in Kenya and Uganda, with 90% of donations going directly to charity recipients.

6.    Greenville Humane Society

Furry kids need holiday love too. The Greenville Humane Society is one of the highest rated animal-rights charities at Charity Navigator—it also happens to be the largest no-kill shelter in Greenville.

7.    Habitat For Humanity of Spartanburg

Habitat For Humanity is a good cause in general, but Habitat For Humanity of Spartanburg stands out with an impressively low CEO salary of $52,000 per year, as listed by Charity Navigator.

8.    Midwest Food Bank

Food banks and holiday cheer go hand-in-hand. The Midwest Food Bank is the highest rated food bank/food pantry on Charity Navigator. It boasts a perfect score in Accountability & Transparency.

9.    Modest Needs

This charity makes so much sense to me because so often people get stuck in a bind and don’t know where to turn for help. Modest Needs funds emergency expenses to keep families out of poverty. Modest Needs also has a perfect Accountability & Transparency rating at Charity Navigator.

10. National Alliance to End Homelessness

I can’t think of a better Christmas gift than giving a family a home for the holidays. The National Alliance to End Homelessness has an A+ rating from the American Institute of Philanthropy because donations go directly to the cause—putting an end to homelessness.

(photo: Getty Images)