Some friends who work for non-profits—smaller groups in particular—tell me that donations are down this holiday season. It’s not surprising, of course, at a time when many are feeling the economic pinch. And with so many expenses at this time of year and the pressure to create a good holiday for family and friends, it’s easy to put charitable donations way behind other bills.

Because I read Peter Singer’s The Life You Can Save this fall, I’ve been inspired to work harder at giving more. Singer’s focus is on the billion people who live in extreme poverty, and about half of my donations go to groups who help the poorest of the world’s poor. The other half go to organizations that help animals directly, or work to end animal use and abuse.

Not everyone has money for charitable contributions. And giving money is hardly the only—or most important—way to make a difference for animals. Anyone can be vegan and talk to their friends about veganism. Anyone can volunteer a few hours a week at an animal shelter.

But if you can give, you should, because large and small organizations can do the kind of work that individuals can’t. It takes money to produce quality materials that educate people about animal use and vegan lifestyle—materials that are well-written, copyedited and have good graphics (and yes, those things matter.) It takes money to do undercover investigations about animal use and to get the information into the hands of the media. Donations can also fund advertisements that reach millions of people and can pay for campaigns to change laws that affect animals. And it clearly takes money—and lots of it—to provide food, housing, and medical care for rescued animals.

With just four days left in the year, a number of animal advocacy groups have matching gift challenges, which means your last-minute donation can go twice as far. Donations can be made directly from websites of individual organizations in order to meet end-of-year deadlines.