It’s becoming more and more popular for companies to offer products that include a charitable contribution with each purchase. When you can get your caffeine fix and donate to a great cause simultaneously — why wouldn’t you?

Choosing to purchase a charity-affiliated product can be an easy way to give back in your everyday life. And while we applaud your philanthropic shopping habits, we also believe in making informed money decisions. Even when deciding to donate to charity.

Below are some tips and considerations to help you assess the impact of buying from a company that donates to charity, and decide for yourself whether or not it suits your personal needs.

1. Is the relationship between the for-profit company and the charity authentic?

It’s important to determine if the company is truly invested in the cause before you trust them to make a donation on your behalf. Do a quick scan of the product or the company’s website to gauge authenticity.

Is the charity itself properly represented on the product packaging or any promotional materials? Has the company made efforts to support the cause beyond selling this specific product? If you come across transparent, straightforward information on the cause and how the company got involved, that’s a good indicator of an authentic relationship.

2. Does the receiving charity match your personal philanthropic goals?

With so many causes to support, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and pressured to support them all. Purchasing a charity-affiliated product is an easy way to support a cause you wouldn’t otherwise donate time or money to. However, it’s still a good idea to understand specifically where your contribution is going.

What is the mission of the charity, specifically, and what programs or services do they offer? For example, it might be obvious that a charity’s mission is related to breast cancer — but is it funding medical research for a cure, awareness campaigns, or patient and family services?

You can also look into the financial health, transparency, and accountability of the charity. Most non-profit organizations will share financial documents, policies, results, and a list of the board of directors online.Charity Navigator is a great resource to learn more about vetting for a legitimate charity and find additional information on a wide range of established non-profits.

3. What impact will your purchase have on the cause?

Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the terms. When purchasing a cause-related product, typically the manufacturer or brand determines the value of the charitable contribution. And the contribution type can vary from product to product. Will a percentage of the proceeds be donated? Or, will the company plant one tree or donate one pair of shoes for each purchase?

And, check to see if there are any limitations or fine print. This could be in the form of a cap on total donation amount, a limit of one donation per customer, or time constraints on the charitable promotion.

4. Would you buy the product even without the charitable affiliation?

While you may want to support the cause, you can always make an impact in other ways if the product doesn’t suit your personal needs. If the benefitting cause strikes a chord with you, reach out to the charity and ask how you can get involved.

There are always plenty of ways to give back, so don’t feel obligated to make the purchase.

Do you purchase products affiliated with a charity to give back with your shopping? Let us know what your opinions are in the comments below!