BOSTON (CBS) – Twenty-five percent of annual giving to charities is done between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

There are more than 600,000 public charities all wanting our support. When you decide to support a charity look beyond the razzle-dazzle.

You want to look at the program ratio. That’s the percentage of the charity’s income that goes to administrative costs and fundraising. The smaller that number the more money that goes to doing the work of the charity. Several good websites for checking on charitable giving:,,

So whom do you help and how much do you give? What’s in your budget for church and charity?  Once you decide how much you have to give then look to see where your dollars will do the most good.

We want to teach our kids “It is better to give than to receive”, but that’s a tough concept especially at Christmas.

Hold a family meeting and get the kids involved in selecting the charities. Try to find something local so they can volunteer as well.

Currently our budget includes Dana Farber where our son was treated and our local food pantry Loaves and Fishes. They need our dollars and our time to help collect and distribute food. Money is always welcome but so is food.

Consider taking the kids grocery shopping with you and allow them to fill up a basket for a food pantry. I do this with my granddaughter. We created an imaginary family and she puts in her basket what she thinks the family would like to eat.

There is always some fun stuff in there like a brownie mix or chocolate peanut butter. She views it from her perspective and what she thinks they would like.

So if you want to find things the kids can do for a charity, consider letting them have a food drive in your neighborhood. Kids can do simple things to raise dollars for a charity.

One more thing:  New ideas for charitable giving: