Giving Tuesday: Antidote to buying frenzy?

Julia Kathary, Executive Director of the Coburn Place
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It starts with the madness of Black Friday, then comes Cyber Monday.

Now there's a new one to add: Giving Tuesday. It's what founders call opening day of the giving season.

So far, so good. By mid-morning, the hashtag Giving Tuesday was trending nationally on Twitter and the website Giving Tuesday listed hundreds of charities which hopped on board.

Julia Kathary, Executive Director of the Coburn Place, says this charitable time of year can be tough.

"We certainly have a lot of great causes to support but this time of year we are all really kind of competing for attention," she explained.

Coburn Place, which provides transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence, count on stories from clients like Jene Fletcher to encourage giving.

"When I first got in here I had nowhere to go," she said.

For the mother of two boys, 16 months and three weeks old, this place is a lifesaver.

"I would just pay it forward to the next person who needs it because there is no way to repay what they have done for me," said Fletcher.

The United Christmas Service is also feeling the pinch with 8,600 families signed up for holiday help.

"At this point in order to assist all of the families we would need to raise approximately $800,000 and we have only raised $250,000," said Mary Jones with the United Christmas Service.

This year the need is up and donations are down. That's why it is more important than ever to do some research before handing over cash.

The IU Center on Philanthropy executive director Patrick Rooney says donors need to ask questions.

"Are they giving to a new charity? Are they giving to the charities they have always given to and are they maximizing their impact?" Rooney said.

Before giving, here are a few tips.

Know Your charity.

Follow the money trail. Know where donations are going and how much goes to overhead costs. You can check to see how much money actually goes towards programs at Charity Navigator.

Know the difference between "Tax Exempt" and "Tax Deductible." That could save YOU come tax time.

Even though money is tight and options are vast, the Salvation Army is counting on a Christmas miracle to raise $3.3 million.

"We believe that they will come through, that the people of this community will come through," said Major Barbara MacLean.

 After all, it is the season of giving.

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