The holiday season each year sees an increase in charitable donations, with many Australians looking to support local charities.

As the national charity regulator, the Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission (ACNC) has three key tips to help donors ensure they can give with confidence to one of Australia’s 56,000 registered charities this Christmas.

Search the ACNC Charity Register

The ACNC Charity Register is a free, searchable database containing information about Australia’s 56,000 registered charities – including the activities they undertake, where they operate and who they support. It also provides access to a charity’s Annual Information Statements and financial reports, which demonstrates an organisation’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

The Charity Register also allows donors to check whether a charity has Deductible Gift Recipient (DGR) status. DGR status lets individuals claim a tax-deductible donation in their annual tax return for donations over $2.

If you’re considering a donation of goods, check what a charity can use

Many well-known charities run campaigns to receive donated goods or services in the lead-up to the busy holiday season, while others would prefer access to cash donations to allow for the purchase of wholesale goods.

If you are thinking about donating goods such as gifts or food, it’s best to check with a charity directly if your donation is of use for them. The ACNC Charity Register contains contact details for most charities to help you get in touch, while some charities may also post what they need urgently on their websites or social media channels.

Approached by a fundraiser?

Many charities will undertake Christmas fundraising appeals, either through face-to-face fundraising or through online campaigns.

Street collectors can often be found collecting cash donations in high-traffic shopping districts. If you are approached by a fundraiser, you are entitled to ask for identification to ensure the activity is legitimate before committing to a donation.

If you receive a request to donate online, avoid clicking links or providing sensitive personal information via social media - it is best to visit a charity's website directly to ensure your contribution is going to a legitimate charity.

The ACNC encourages donors to give generously and with confidence to Australian charities this holiday season.