Although many of us make a point of giving back all year 'round, the holiday season is a time of year that brings the needs of others into clear focus. Researchers have found that approximately 34 percent of all charitable giving is done during the last 3 months of the year. December alone counts for 18 percent of total giving for the year.

I was recently invited by Tiny Prints-a division of Shutterfly which produces holiday cards, invitations, announcements, and what not-to give my thoughts on how best to show your gratitude to others by giving back.

The result, which brings in the ideas of others who were also invited to provide their own tips, is the Tiny Prints Giving Back Guide. Here's a peek at the 4 tips for showing your gratitude by giving back-be sure to check out the Giving Back Guide for much more.

1. Use your skills to your advantage

Every one of us has one or more skills that we can offer as volunteers to local nonprofits and community-based organizations. Whether it's being a great organizer or party planner, or having a knack for fundraising, or simply having some extra time on your hands to help-you can make a real difference in the lives of others.

2. Do your homework

While there are plenty of organizations that you can volunteer to help, it's best to choose one or more that you have a personal passion or connection with. For example, years ago I helped found SPORTS for Exceptional Athletes in San Diego-a nonprofit that provides athletic opportunities to developmentally disabled people. I had a real connection and passion for the organization because one of my sons is developmentally disabled and their friends and families.

3. Think outside the piggy bank

While cash is king for most nonprofits, they really do need all sorts of things besides money. Says Mariann Bucina Roca-executive director of Friends of Boston's Homeless-"Organize a drive at your workplace, church or neighborhood to collect socks, hats and gloves. Our clients need those items, and our organization would have to pay for them otherwise. It's a physical thing that helps immediately."

4. Create opportunities for charitable acts

Each year, one of my former clients-who has now become a good friend-makes a donation in my name to one of his favorite local charities. You can multiply the impact of your gratitude by turning opportunities for giving traditional gifts into opportunities to give back. It's a win-win situation for everyone involved.