Utica, NY (WIBX) - How worthy is that charitable cause that's been asking for your donation?

The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance is offering these tips to keep mind before you open your wallet.

“Many people have been out of work, and some for a very long time, forcing them to turn to charitable support, perhaps for the first time in their life. The need is high for charitable organizations, so it’s extremely important that you maximize the impact your holiday donations can have,” said David Polino, Better Business Bureau President.

“A smart donor takes a hard look at a charity’s programs, finances and governance before making a donation. While almost all charities have the best of intentions, not all organizations meet standards or are well managed.”

Avoid these common mistakes when donating to a charity this holiday:

Assuming that only “low overhead” matters. How much money a charity spends on the actual cause—as compared to how much goes toward fundraising and administration—is an important factor, but it’s not the whole story. A charity with impressive financial ratios could have other significant problems such as insufficient transparency, inadequate board activity and inaccurate appeals.

Failing to do your research before you give. Even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse, so don’t just take their word for it. Expertise is available. Go to http://www.bbb.org/us/charity/.

Succumbing to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.

Assuming that the charity wants any item you donate. Worn out, unusable or unwanted donated goods cost charities millions of dollars each year because the organization has to bear the cost of tossing the unacceptable donation. If you have questions about an item’s acceptability, call the charity and ask.

Mistaking a charity’s identity. With so many charities in existence, their names can blur in a donor’s mind and similar-sounding organizations are common. Be sure you know which charity you’re supporting and that it’s not a case of mistaken identity.

More From WIBX 950