OK, let’s say you’ve got some cash to give away. Maybe that’s neither you nor me (definitely not me) but someone out there’s got money better off spent on a tax deduction than on clearance-priced holiday do-dads at Macy’s (if that’s not the definition of money to burn I don’t know what is).

So here’s my list of worthy charities for those really needing to allocate good money to great organizations before the year runs out (in no particular order):

1-The University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine Shelter Medicine Program: OK so this one tops my list for a selfish reason: It’s my alma mater. More than that, it’s because this school has built a progressive shelter medicine program I can be proud of. It’s where I allocate my own charitable giving when it comes to my school donations—because population control and controlling disease among the have-nots in the pet world is kind of my thing. If it’s yours, too, here’s the link to the school’s development office. Specify that you want your bucks to head to this program (I promise they’re good about routing your money where you want it to go).

2-Maddie’s Fund: Spaying and neutering pets in low income families is perhaps the most fiscally responsible way to achieve population control. Recruiting vets to help make that happen is a no-brainer. Join the no-kill revolution and vote with your dollars here.

3-The Delta Society: Perhaps the foremost organization supporting the human-animal bond through pet therapy programs and other effective forms of pet volunteerism.

4-American Bird Conservancy: This organization gets consistently high marks for allocating its resources wisely. Not only does it do a lot for our avian wildlife, it’s recently begun focusing its efforts on Cats Indoors, a national campaign to reduce the environmental stress on wildlife through PR—not through killing.

5-Your local no-kill shelter needs your money, too. Is it well-run? Is it clean? Does it foster volunteerism and work with the community to adopt progressive ways to place animals? If so, there’s probably no better place for you to apply your funds if you’d prefer to keep it local. Want to see how well it ranks among seasoned charity watchers? Check out CharityNavigator and other sites that rank charities on a variety of criteria.

OK so these are my favorites but I’m soliciting more from you. Contribute your faves: