It can really be a challenge trying to decide which charity organization you wish should receive your hard-earned money. You could support that environmental group that keeps calling you, or you can dole out money to the police association that knocks on your door faithfully every six months. Or you could throw money at the children’s charity that stuffs gut-wrenching pictures of underprivileged kids in your hand at the mall. It is a difficult choice discovering the best charities in Chicago to donate to.

But many people feel the best way to decide which charity to support is by being proactive and doing the research yourself instead of waiting for them to come to you. This way, you are far more likely to discover a charity that matters to you. Here are some tips to ensure your money is well-spent.

Our first tip is to give to groups you know. If you see an organization you like, get to know their work and what they do to improve lives. This will give you a better degree of confidence that your money is being put forth to good use.

You will also want to make sure you fully understand what the organization does. Check out their website and read the pages that talk about what they do. It also helps if you read their mission statement. If this information is difficult to discover, you may want to move on to another organization.

Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Charities and non-profits will gladly provide you with the information you need to make a sound decision. You could also do some volunteer work first, this way you know first hand what they are all about.