PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — It’s that time of year again — when giving becomes more important than ever.

“We are with family. We are with friends, and we are reminded of all the things that we have and that we’re able to share, and I think that that triggers people to want to in turn share with those who don’t have the same resources,” said Jennie Zioncheck with the Center For Philanthropy.

Before you give away your hard-earned money, experts like Zioncheck say be smart in donating to charities.

First, pick your passion.

“Make sure you know the change you want to make. So where do you want to give? What do you care about?”

Second, make sure the charity is legitimate.

“There are a lot of websites that help people look under the hood of a charitable organization,”  Zioncheck said.

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Charity Navigator, Guide Star, Give, and Pittsburgh Gives can help you take a closer look. Watch out for those charities that spend lots of money on overhead and salaries.

Third, check out the charity’s website.

“Do your due diligence by going on their website. Make sure their mission speaks to the work you want to see done,” Zioncheck said.

Fourth, never give over a phone on on-line unless you are absolutely certain about the charity.

“If you’re just getting an ask through an email and don’t know anything more, probably not the best way to give.”

Here’s an idea. When you and your family gather at the holiday table, why don’t you altogether decide a charity to donate to. It not only increases the effectiveness of your dollars, but it creates a tradition that can last for generations.

And giving does not have to involve money.

“People can give of their time. They can volunteer. They can help a neighbor. They can give of their voice. With the increasing presence of social media, you can raise awareness of a cause, you can partner with neighbors. You can become active in philanthropy that just doesn’t look like sending a check,” Zioncheck said.

In short, giving at the holidays is for everyone.