COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — It’s the most charitable time of the year — the holiday season. And kicking things off, Giving Tuesday on November 22.

As many families struggle with the high costs of inflation this year, many charities are faced with an overwhelming need for donations.

“Give what you can. So, if that’s materials, if that’s using your voice, and encouraging other people to support, if that’s volunteering… giving is giving. And certainly, give until it feels good,” said Kevin Scally, Chief Relationship Officer for Charity Navigator, an organization that vets and evaluates more than 1 million U.S. charities and non-profits, to help you make sure your money goes to a legitimate cause.

Scally said it’s important to give with your heart and your head, by doing your research and going straight to the source.

“Typically, it’s best to go directly to the non-profit,” Scally said. Preferably, a 501c3, or a registered charitable organization, which will have an employer identification number that you can use to verify its legitimacy.

“You want to make sure that it’s going to an organization that’s valid, vetted, and trusted,” said Scally. Don’t click on the first link you see and avoid giving to any person or organization that reaches out to you first.

“There’s going to be a lot of different appeals going out. You’re going to get phone calls and text messages and emails,” Scally said. “You absolutely want to steer away from any sort of unsolicited communication that you’re getting.”

And consider how you donate. “Typically, donating with credit card is much more safe than donating with bank information or using something like CashApp or Venmo,” said Scally.

If you make a donation and find out after the fact that it is fraudulent, report it to local law enforcement, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, or the Federal Trade Commission. And if you’re looking for the right charity, Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau can direct you to vetted and verified organizations.