Make sure your charitable gift goes where it's supposed to go

Yes, it's the holiday season and most of us love a nice gift, or two. But, giving is also a big part of this season.

Donating, giving, and gifting are wonderful any time of the year, but it's something many of you are called to do around the holidays.

Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United owner Arthur Blank and his foundation just announced a $6.8 million donation for international aid. Sure, he's a billionaire, but he also makes sure his money goes to well-regarded charities. He chose CARE, a locally headquartered organization that plays a role in helping to manage poverty abroad. He has a team that vets where is hard-earned dollars go. But you can do some homework too before giving.

Start with Charity Navigator. For 17 years it has rated charities. For instance with CARE, Charity Navigator rates the organization with four stars in transparency, the highest you can get. It gives more than 90 percent of its donations to the charity's work. About 5% of the money coming in pays for admininstrative expensives. Got a charity in mind yourself? Well, Charity Navigator has a database of nearly 10,000 right now

But double check with another database from the Better Business Bureau called It'll let you know if a group has met basics standards, or not, or whether it refuses to disclose information.

Remember though, taking at look at a charity's background is something you should do all year round - not just during the season of giving.