This season, givers want to see their donation used immediately.

As the recession eases, more people are pulling out their pocketbooks for places that directly help those in need.

“People are trying to really match what limited gifts they can make with those charities that could really put that in action immediately,” said Sandra Miniutti, vice president for Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities. Homeless shelters and food banks are getting a bump in donations, she said.

However, as people redirect money, other organizations, like arts groups, lose funding.

December is a pivotal month for charities, which can receive up to half of their revenue in the year’s last three months, said Michael Nilsen, spokesperson for the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

“The holidays make us think more about others and how we can improve the world,” Miniutti said.

One popular new trend is “giving circles,” where members combine money and decide an issue to help fund.

“Giving circles really allow you to pool your knowledge,” said Michael Litz, president and CEO of the Forum of Regional Associations of Grantmakers.

Texting emerged as an effective fundraising tool after the Haiti earthquake spurred millions in texted donations. Though not yet a major force, groups like the Salvation Army advertise a text message number.

“If they don’t have the cash in hand it makes it easy to give,” Miniutti said.