Our Voice: Even sharing a little bit can make us happier

It's the giving time of year -- although it should be noted that people can, and do, give at all times of the year.

When you decide to donate to an organization, there are a couple of things to consider. One: Is the organization reputable? And two: Is your gift a good fit for you?

If you want to just open your wallet every time there is an open hand, we can't stop you. But it is prudent -- even wise -- to do a little research when it comes to giving.

The secretary of state's website -- tinyurl.com/GiveSmart -- is a good place to start. Or check out our extensive look at Mid-Columbia nonprofits at tricityherald.com/charities2013.

Your gut reaction may not be the wisest gift-giving indicator.

Sometimes a convincing sales pitch is really just a sucker ball in disguise.

That being said, even among respectable organizations, the need will always outpace the resources -- although it is amazing how even a small trickle can add up to a small stream or river.

One way you can decide where to give is to consider your priorities.

For example, the Wish List series that's running this month in the Tri-City Herald has been highlighting what different local organizations need and the services they provide.

Some groups need specific items such as reliable transportation or yarn or books; some need volunteers who are able to give their time.

And we've never heard of a charity that said no to financial support.

But it is interesting to us how many of our local charities need something besides money.

It's been eye opening to consider the many charities in our community, what they do and how we can support them. In many cases, they need something, not necessarily new, that someone else has but doesn't use.

If you're donating this year, be smart about it.

Consider the organization's needs and your abilities or interests to see if there is a match.

This sounds like work, but it happens almost automatically. We are drawn to causes that have meaning to us.

PsychologyToday.com talks about how thinking about a gift and choosing one that has meaning is of great value to the giver.

So you're not only helping the community, but you're making yourself happier as well.

The Dalai Lama says, "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

We have to agree. Giving is a form of compassion.

PsychologyToday.com, also says compassion makes you happy. Compassion makes you wise. Compassion makes you attractive. Compassion gives you money and time. Compassion also boosts your health.

Even if you only have a little to give, give it wisely and thoughtfully and your Christmas season will be happier.