MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — There are so many charities out there, it’s sometimes hard to know which ones you should donate to, where you’re reassured your money going directly to the cause.

Last year alone, Americans donated more than $300 billion to charities. With so much money being given, it’s tempting for scam artists to go after some of it.

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Money Talks just came up with a list of things to do so you know your money is going where you want it to.

It says the first thing you should do once you decide on a charity is to look it up on a websites like Charity Navigator or GuideStar to find out if the charity is legitimate.

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The next thing you’ll want to do is find out how much of the money actually goes to the charity. Some spend a big chunk of donations on administrative expenses, leaving little left for the actual cause people are trying to help.

Another tip is to donate directly. Money Talks advises never making a donation over the phone. Even if it is a legitimate charity calling you, there’s a good chance the person making the call is a paid third-party, which is getting some of the money you donated.

And, of course, it’s not all about giving money. In some cases a charity may need your help doing things like serving meals or cleaning just as much as it needs money.

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