Mel's Picks

1 Charity Evaluators

Every December, I list a couple of worthy causes such as Heifer International, Doctors Without Borders, and Habitat for Humanity. This December I'm listing two independent charity evaluation sites so that if you want to give but also want to ensure the most bang for your buck, you can check the efficiency ratings (how much is spent on good works vs. how much is spent on administration and fundraising) of your target charities. The first is Charity Navigator and the second is the American Institute of Philanthropy. Try both and see which one you prefer.
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2 Online Giving Site

Network for Good allows you to search for—and donate directly to—the charity of your choice, including those that don't have a Web presence. Think of it as a kind of charity clearing house. You can find charity contact information, access reports on the organization, and even volunteer. Don't forget to look close to home: food pantries and local energy assistance programs always need your help.

3 Online Gift-Giving Guide

I've mentioned this site before, but it's worth mentioning again. New Scientist maintains the No More Socks page, devoted to gathering together neat gift ideas. You can choose from technology, home and garden, food, toys, charities, and extreme gifts, among other categories. Have a browse and enjoy the variety.