This holiday season, many Canadians are opting for charitable giving rather than handing over a traditional gift-wrapped present to family, friends and colleagues.

In fact, almost two-thirds of Canadians (62%) say they would prefer having someone make a donation on their behalf instead of receiving a gift, finds a study by BMO Harris Private Banking.

Read: When to talk philanthropy

Other key findings include:

  • More than three-quarters (78%) would consider making a charitable donation on someone else’s behalf instead of giving a tangible gift;
  • Almost half (45%) volunteered over the past year.

“It’s important to keep in mind that giving back to your community doesn’t only have to be about money,” says Marvi Ricker, vice president and managing director, Philanthropic Services, BMO Harris Private Banking.

Read: Start the donation discussion

She adds, “Volunteering during the holidays and throughout the year is a great alternative to tangible presents, especially if you have a tight budget. It also teaches children and teenagers valuable life lessons about responsibility.”

Here are some tips when giving to charities.

1. Consider the recipient’s interests: Do you know what issues matter to the person on whose behalf you’re making the donation? Does she volunteer with a particular organization? Aligning your donation with her interests will make your charitable gift that much more meaningful.

Read: Charity on rise: BMO

2. Beware of fraudulent charities: If you’re solicited for a donation by phone, ask for the charity’s registered name, address and telephone number and offer to make a donation online. Then verify with the CRA that the organization is a registered charity or is affiliated with one. If everything checks out, write a cheque and address it to the charity, rather than the soliciting individual.

3. Obtain a tax receipt: Always ask for proof your contribution has been submitted. Not only will this benefit you at tax time, but an official receipt ensures the charity is properly registered. Consider having the tax receipt sent to the person on whose behalf you’re donating—they’ll get both the honour and the tax benefit.

Read: 5 year-end tax tips

4. Volunteer your time: If you have a few hours or days to spare, take the opportunity to volunteer during the holiday season.