It’s hard to make good decisions regarding donations – especially when there are many urgent needs and countless ways to spend charitable dollars. With National Philanthropy Day coming up on Monday, Nov. 12, here are some best practices you may want to consider before you contribute from David Campbell, an expert in philanthropy and professor of public administration at Binghamton University, State University of New York.

Give money, not goods

The ideal way to show your compassion is to donate money to a charity that you respect, rather than shipping cartons of diapers and cases of canned chili. It’s easy to think of disasters in personal terms: “What if it were me or my family?” and picture what you’d need if you suddenly became homeless: clothes, food or toys. But goods given during emergencies often go to waste. These donations can even do more harm than good when they interfere with disaster response efforts.

Donate to organizations operating on the scene

It’s generally a good idea to support groups operating in the midst of the disaster. They can give money and other aid to the people who need it directly. Do your homework to learn about an organization’s past performance. Established organizations are usually your best bet because they are the most apt to have staff, experience, infrastructure and roots in affected communities.

Support established nonprofits

While most new organizations are led by people moved to make a difference, some are opportunists committing fraud, like the founders of the Hurricane Sandy Relief Foundation. Supposed established nonprofits.

Consider long-term priorities

Be mindful that people in afflicted areas will need our money long after a disaster stops making headlines. Your donation may matter six months or even years from now as much as it does today.

Maximize the speed and size of your gift

Make online donations with a credit card or a debit card. Many nonprofits encourage people to donate by sending texts, an approach that may seem like the fastest way to give. But wireless companies tend to wait until you officially cover the donation’s cost – by paying your bill – before passing that money along to the charity. That can delay payments by weeks or even months.