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How to Give 

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Charitable giving isn't always sexy. According to the National Philanthropic Trust (NPT), the average annual household contribution is just shy of $3,000, which means that many of us are likely making the kind of modest donations that don't have an immediate, tangible result, like a snazzy new building.

But even the smallest gifts can have incredible impact. Last year, individual donors were responsible for the vast majority of philanthropy, comprising 72 percent of total giving for a total of more than $258 billion, the NPT reports. By comparison, foundations were responsible for just 15 percent; bequests, eight percent; and corporations, five percent.

To help illustrate the impact of gifts at every level, the nonprofits featured in this guide have indicated just how far different dollar amounts can go, and the concrete results of those donations.

Like most things in life, it's all relative. To use the popular latte analogy, a month's worth of weekday morning mochas adds up to about $100 month, or $1,200 a year. And while charitable giving doesn't have to be about major sacrifice, it's easy to see the impact with side-by-side comparisons.

$50 The cost of salon cut and style could provide five hot meals from the American Red Cross for someone displaced by a disaster.

$100 The cost of an inexpensive tablet covers food and drinks for a 12-person volunteer trail work crew with the Central Oregon Trail Alliance.

$250 The cost of pair of fancy mountain bike shoes can assist the Latino Community Association in helping five people achieve citizenship.

$1,000 The cost of a season's pass to Mt. Bachelor can pay for Habitat for Humanity to put a roof on a home for a low-income family.

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