I read somewhere that one of the instructions they give you in the event of a problem on an airplane is to put the oxygen mask on yourself first, then your children. That goes against instinct because you want to protect your children first. However, if you pass out before you get the mask on them, how can you help? So, put the mask on yourself first. In charity, I think that means taking care of yourself, your family and your friends. Chances are in that large group, there is always someone in need. Then, expand out from there. Local homeless shelters, food banks, charities and animal shelters are always in need of donations. Check out the charity or organization before you donate so that you know what they need and how it will help others. Unfortunately, there are a lot of well meaning organizations that fail to get items to the needy because of red tape. It's often why they ask for money first because the organization can purchase the needed items rather than spending precious time going through donated goods. You don't want to bring them a truckload of paper towels if they have no place to store them. But, with a few phone calls, you can find an organization with the need and storage space.
We all have coupons that we don't need or use. Consider using those to purchase items to donate to local charities. For instance, you can stock up on dog or cat food and treats. Then, donate them to a local animal shelter. It's a clear way of stretching your donation dollars. One of our local shelters maintains this list of needed items on their website:
Leashes (not retractable)
Contractor Trash Bag
Cat or dog Treats
Stainless food and water bowls
When you think about it, this list makes a lot of sense. But, if you had asked me before what a shelter could use, I would have just said food. So, consider some of the above items when you're going through your coupons. By combining the same coupon/sale strategy to your charity dollars, you'll have more to give than you think. And, you'll be making Fluffie's little corner of the world a little better until her 'forever' family adopts her.