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Philanthropic types are often overcome by the sheer number of causes that need support. It’s hard to wade through the endless sea of charities and nonprofit organizations to find the ones you want to support. Luckily, there is a reliable process to discovering which causes you want to support.

Step One: What personally affects you?

If you have a loved one with cancer, supporting the American Cancer Society might be obvious. Know a loved one who suffered from domestic abuse? There are a number of organizations that offer assistance to victims. Nearly everyone can think of a cause that has affected them or their loved ones, and these are great places to start when considering which charities to become a part of.

Step Two: What is happening in the world?

From devastating natural disasters to political opposition, there are hundreds of organizations that focus on what is going on right now. If you can’t find a charity from the first step, read some current events and identify places or people that could use your support. Then, it’s as easy as searching for organizations in your area.

Step Three: Research the charity you’re looking to involve yourself in.

Unfortunately, there are people in the world who use charities as a way to make money while providing no help to the community. To avoid scam artists, do your research on any charity you’re interested in before donating your money or time. A great place to start is the Federal Trade Commission’s website on charity scams.

Likewise, you want to make sure any place you donate to transparent in what they are supporting. For example, many charities offer support to the community, but some have political motives, which may go against your personal views. Understand what the charity supports by asking members not only what they claim to support, but also their most recent events and where they have recently spent their donated money.

Step Four: Start your own charity.

If you are unable to find a suitable charity that you care passionately about, consider starting your own charity. Although large charities can take millions of dollars to operate, it is possible to start a charity with just a few dollars. Post your idea on some crowdfunding sites, and you may be able to accumulate more money than you expect. The best part about starting your own charity is the ability to create a community around a central mission to help others. The possibilities for starting your own nonprofit are infinite.

If you’re hoping to become more of a philanthropist and volunteer, this guide should help you decide what causes are worthy of your resources. There are thousands of organizations looking for support, so the question is: Who will you help today?

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