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Giving Tuesday: Tips for the most effective ways to give back this holiday season


WASHINGTON (CIRCA) — On this Giving Tuesday, doing something and starting somewhere is a lot better than just thinking and ending up not doing anything.

Effective altruism encourages people to think deeply about how to prioritize their time to make the most difference.

Ben Kuhn and Harvard Effective Altruism found that "Giving Games" are among the best ways to engage people through effective altruism. One of the games involved volunteers walking up to people on the street and giving them a dollar, telling them they could donate their dollar to one of three charities.

Kuhn explained the concept further: "By framing giving as a choice between good options, the 'Giving Game' model encourages people to be intentional, informed, and impactful in their giving."

The Life You Can Save put together a manual on how to run your own "Giving Games."

Here are some amazing groups associated with the cause:

  • Give Well -- Dedicated to helping donors decide where to give
  • Charity Science -- Using science to advocate for the most evidence-based and cost-effective charities
  • GapMinder -- Its mission is to "fight devastating ignorance with fact-based worldviews everyone can understand"
  • Animal Charity Evaluators -- The most effective ways to help animals
  • 80,000 Hours -- Provides career advice for people who want to make a social impact through their work
Amazon's #DeliveringSmiles
Jaxon Smith takes a break from playing a snow ball toss game with Amazon volunteer Molly Alderson to have a bite of pizza during Amazon's #DeliveringSmiles kick-off event on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2017, in Seattle. (Stephen Brashear/Amazon via AP Images)

You don't just have to donate money; there are lots of small boosts you can make to increase your charitable contributions at no cost to you. One example is Amazon Smile. Sign up for an Amazon Smile account and the company will donate 0.5 percent of all your future purchases to a charity of your choice. Just remember to go to smile.amazon.com when you shop.

If you don't have the money to donate yourself, you can still make a huge impact by encouraging others to donate. Spreading awareness and inspiring others is just as important! The easiest way to advocate for top charities is to simply talk to people.

Which type of organization should you support this Giving Tuesday?

Other great ways to give back this holiday season:

  • USPS Operation Santa: "Since 1912, postal employees, charities, individual and corporate volunteers have helped children in need experience the magic of the holidays by adopting their letters sent to Santa." Beginning Dec. 3, you can pick up letters people have written to Santa from your local post office.
  • Adopt a Child or Family for the Holidays: The nonprofit group Doing Good has a list of instructions on how to adopt a family in need. It also has a great list of tips on the best ways to volunteer throughout the holiday season.
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