Beneath the holiday season's external glitter and glitz, celebrants emphasize love, kindness, and, of course, giving to others. That's why so many people focus some of their seasonal spending on charitable giving, extending their generosity beyond family and friends. Kindness -- particularly helping strangers whose circumstances may be more difficult than we can even imagine -- is a positive gesture no matter what, but here at The Motley Fool, we know that giving can be a real investment in the true sense of the word.

Since 1997, The Motley Fool has helped many organizations through our Foolanthropy program. Every year, we've been thrilled to join forces with our generous members, community, and the public at large to contribute to some awesome organizations, some of which subsequently went on to do even greater-than-expected things.

For example, early Foolanthropy campaigns helped support the then-revolutionary microlending organization Grameen Foundation for several years running, starting in 1998. In 2006, founder Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize with the Grameen Bank and their pioneering efforts "to create economic and social development from below."

For a more recent refresher, last year we supported Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), which offers home nurse visits to low-income mothers in the United States. These visits occur before birth and for the first two years of the child's life. The positive outcomes of NFP's programs are well documented in randomized trials over three decades, showing real return on investment in regard to both individual outcomes and benefits to society.

In 2013, Foolanthropy's campaign supported Pencils of Promise (PoP), which builds schools in some of the poorest of countries and tracks the schools' results, which have been impressive. A group of Motley Fool members and employees were able to travel to Guatemala to see the organization's work on the ground -- and fully appreciate the inspirational nature of PoP's work.

In search of sustainable solutions to society's biggest challenge
Over the course of many years, Foolanthropy has evolved in certain ways, but we remain committed to identifying organizations where our contributions can make real impact.

Today, our team is using an approach called Quality-Adjusted Life-Year (QALY), which helps gauge the cost effectiveness of health interventions to improve quantity (life expectancy) and quality of life. QALY calculations place weights on health-related states of being and allow for the calculation of cost-utility ratios that assess medical interventions as inexpensive (low cost per QALY) or expensive (high cost per QALY). This allows us to take an investor-minded approach to make sure our Foolanthropy donations will do the most good.

We seek out financial transparency in our Foolanthropy partners, and the knowledge that there will be real results along with good intentions.

We want those of you who pitch in with our Foolanthropy drives to know that your generosity will go to efficient organizations that track outcomes, and that they're small enough that our combined efforts really make a difference in not only helping recipients, but also helping further the organizations and their important causes.

The best, most rewarding giving doesn't simply entail lending a hand in the short term. It also spurs long-term outcomes to improve people's lives, reduce the societal costs of the world's biggest problems, spur individual success and economic growth, and make the world a better place.

Next week, we'll reveal the worthy organization we're supporting for Foolanthropy 2015, so be sure to check back for the launch of the campaign. In the meantime, enjoy your Thanksgiving and the start of the 2015 holiday season!

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