The holidays for 2015 are rapidly approaching. As usual I have been overwhelmed with  flyers and direct mail letters asking for donations and help from many organizations in my mailbox. I’d like to help them all but know it’s not possible.

So how do you choose?  Here’s what I do.

The first thing I do is pray. I believe God will draw my heart and mind to the ones that He wants me involved in and supporting. Even though I know I can’t help them all, I can, at least, pray for them.

Next, I look at an organizations or ministries track record. What are the stats?  Who are they helping and how much of the dollars that I send them actually go towards the needs of people they are trying to help and not into the organization’s administrative or overhead costs?  I also look to see if there is a way I can support them that doesn’t involve just my money.  There are lots of ways to give assistance during the holidays.  You can serve a meal to the homeless, stuff a shoebox, or perhaps babysit for a special needs family.  Look around and don’t just give your money volunteer your time.

Thirdly, for me, I look at the mission.  Are they staying true to the mission that they set out to do.  So many organizations started out with the right mission but have fallen away or drifted off course. Peter Greer and Chris Horst wrote, Mission Drift: The Unspoken Crisis Facing Leaders, Charities, and Churches, which was chosen as one of Christianity Today’s 2015 Book Award Winners. Their insightful book outlines why organizations drift off mission. It’s a thought-provoking read and a book I highlighted in a recent Influence Women’s newsletter.

Finally, there’s a great story of General William Booth, the founder of the Salvation Army that sums it up. In the early 1900’s He needed to send out a message to his donors and followers at Christmas to encourage them. He didn’t want to spend an excessive amount of money that could go instead to helping those in need, so he used one word in a telegram, “others.”

That word defines the mission of the Salvation Army even today. For over 150 years the Salvation Army has worked for others. They put other’s in front of their own needs, and they work so that other’s have a hot meal, a bed, a place to take their children, and is the loving outstretched hands of God to hundreds of people around the world. Whether in devastating disaster situations, war torn foreign countries, or in the impoverished inner cities, they selflessly work for others – “doing the most good.” They are a great example of an organization that has stayed on their mission and one that I fully endorse.

If you are looking for an organization with history and integrity to put your gifts and donations toward this year, pray, take the time to do the research, and then share the blessings that God has given you.

The bottom line, don’t forget to set something aside for others this holiday season.

I am currently hosting an online Red Kettle for the Salvation Army and you can donate here should you desire to do so.