This is the time of year when many Americans contemplate giving back — and not coincidentally, it’s also the time of year when nonprofits and charities of all stripes send out solicitations for donations. The National Center for Charitable Statistics counts more than 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the United States, so finding the right fit for your giving might seem challenging.

Here are five insights from experts in charitable giving and philanthropy that will help guide you towards making a meaningful donation.

  • Write your “philanthropic autobiography.” “Probably the most important thing for donors is aligning the causes they give to with their own values, passions and interests,” says Una Osili, professor of economics and philanthropic studies at Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.
  • Give to the moment, not in the moment. This advice might sound like semantical hair-splitting, but it’s an important distinction, according to Paul Schervish, professor emeritus and retired director of the Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College.
  • Decide if you want to make an impact locally or globally. “In today’s world, we have many donors that want to make a difference in their own backyard, but they also want to have an impact globally,” says Osili.
  • Vet your charities. Before you open your wallet, make sure the charity to which you plan to give will use your donation wisely.
  • Think beyond dollars. Even if you don’t have a lot of money at the end of the year, there are ways you can help support a cause. Volunteering can be an option.

Read the full article about expert tips on deciding which charities to support this year by Martha C. White at TIME Magazine.