It’s giving season. (About a third of annual charitable giving happens in December.) You want to do good with your money, but who should you give to? It’s hard to find trustworthy information. It’s hard to know whether you’re really making a difference.

Enter Givewell. They have a team of full-time analysts who spend all their time pursuing a simple mission: Figuring out which charities are having the most impact. They dig through the research, they make the phone calls, they visit the field sites. And every year, based on this obsessive research, they release a list of “top picks.”

They just released this year’s list: Here are Givewell’s top 3 picks for 2012. If you want to feel more confident that your charitable donations are making a difference, you’ve just found your answer. (Btw, I put my time & money where my mouth is! After a few years of relying on their picks, I recently joined the Givewell board.)