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Many Americans are pulling out their checkbooks as part of a year-end surge in tax deductible giving. They're donating in more targeted and specific ways than in years past. How has charitable giving changed in recent years, as donors have become more concerned about the effectiveness of the programs they are supporting? If tax laws change – and the deduction for giving is eliminated – will giving trends change? Also, the fiscal cliff looms, and a look back at Lisa Jackson's four years as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.

Banner image: Howard Lake

Making News Here Comes the Edge of the Fiscal Cliff 7 MIN, 33 SEC

With that fiscal cliff looming just five days away, President Obama and members of the Senate are set to return to Washington today, as Democrats and Republicans remain in a stand-off about tax increases and spending cuts. Meanwhile, the Treasury Department has warned that the government will soon be unable to pay its bills unless Congress acts. Jonathan Weisman is Congressional reporter for the New York Times.

Jonathan Weisman, New York Times (@jonathanweisman)

Main Topic How to Make Sure Your Charity Dollars Count 33 MIN, 5 SEC

December is the most popular month to give to charity. According to one recent study, donations spike as the calendar moves closer to New Year's Eve. But how do you know what good your money is actually doing? In recent years, economists have begun to analyze the effectiveness of many charitable programs – and many non-profits are shaping their work in response to those findings. So how do you find out what good your money is doing? Is giving getter smarter? How is a new generation of philanthropists engaging with the social causes of our times, and how would their giving change if charitable tax deductions are eliminated?

Tim Delaney, National Council of Nonprofits (@NatlCouncilNPs)
Dana Goldstein, The Marshall Project (@DanaGoldstein)
Elie Hassenfeld, GiveWell (@GiveWell)
Katherina Rosqueta, University of Pennsylvania (@ImpactSP2)
Daniel J. Mitchell, Cato Institute (@danieljmitchell)

Reporter's Notebook EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson Resigns 7 MIN, 7 SEC

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency has announced she'll be leaving after four years on the job. Lisa Jackson's departure comes as many in the environmental movement continue to question President Obama's commitment to dealing with climate change, but she also managed to pull off some notable firsts during her time running the EPA, as we hear from Darren Samuelsohn, senior policy reporter for Politico.

Darren Samuelsohn, Politico (@dsamuelsohn)

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