Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder
Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2006 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.
As it turns out, a frequent-user points system that gives me points to use towards gift cards, cheap appliances, etc. has added charitable contributions to its stable. I just used it and Charity Navigator to decide to give some "free" money to Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Charity Navigator provides tips for holiday giving as well as a top ten list of big ol' charities. Obvious-in-retrospect: it is better to concentrate giving on a few trusted charities that align with your big goals, so that you don't get on a bunch of lists and waste charities' money on sending you junk mail, and so that your money makes a bigger difference. The head of Charity Navigator has a fun and cranky blog that'll give you more of the charity-world skinny.