BOSTON  (CBS) – Last Tuesday was Giving Tuesday. If you missed it, you were not alone. We know about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and now to continue in the Christmas spirit we have Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday is a way to encourage consumers to share the wealth. Twenty-five percent of annual giving to charities is done between Thanksgiving and the New Year. This is also the period that much of the fund raising takes place.

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 fund raising. The smaller that number the more money that goes to doing the work of the charity. There are several good websites for checking out charities:  www.give.org, www.charitywatch.org, www.charitynavigator.org which I use.

So, when it comes time to write a check to a charity this month be sure the charity is legit. Take the time to check them out. Check the Federal Trade Commission’s website before giving to a charity you know very little about.

Sadly, scammers know what tugs at our heart strings and often we receive fake e-mails asking for donations. Don’t lead with your heart here, lead with your head. And the e-mails start pouring in after a disaster happens. If you get an e-mail suggesting you help the victims of the terrible fires in Tennessee ignore it and send your dollars to the Red Cross directly.

I like local charities!  Some place where you can volunteer your time and give your money. And you can see what good your money can do.

My money and my time go to a local food pantry, Loaves & Fishes and to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute and the MASS General Hospital. Both treated my son when he was sick.

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You can hear Dee Lee’s expert financial advice on WBZ NewsRadio 1030 each weekday at 1:55 p.m., 3:55 p.m., and 7:55 p.m.

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