After the spending frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday comes Giving Tuesday, a day dedicated to charitable giving and volunteering.

But before you donate there are ways to make sure your contribution counts.

One of the most important things to do is check the organization’s IRS Form 990.

It is an annual information return nonprofits use to claim federal tax-exempt status, and it is filed every year.

You can find the form on, a non-profit journalism organization that provides public documents.

IRS Form 990 not only lists totals for money coming in and going out, but it also describes an organization’s program services and how much they cost. This is found in Part III of the form.

You can also search for a local charity in the Better Business Bureau Central Texas database and search for national charities on the BBB’s

The site shows whether the nonprofit meets 20 standards of accountability.

One of the standards is program expenses.

The BBB approves a charity only if it spends at least 65 percent of total expenses on program activities – not administrative ones.

The BBB recommends that before donating -- to be wary of on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations and emotional appeals.