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Wanting to give back to your community is an admirable ambition, but knowing how to get from that point to actually making your first donation can seem a bit overwhelming. There are dozens of causes in need of assistance and each one is worthy in its own way. By taking the time to think about your motives for donating and your personal interests, you can determine which charities best appeal to your philanthropic spirit.

Choose a Cause That Stirs Your Heart

It’s all too common to see a social media post that tears at our emotions and urges us to act. However, you can do the most good, when you choose to contribute to a cause that touches you on a deeper level. You should choose a charity that deeply concerns you. This will prompt you to investigate charities that have the greatest potential for creating change.

Determine How You Want Your Donation Used

Another factor to consider is how you want your money used to help others. If you want to see more immediate change, your efforts are probably best focused on locally operated charities, such as food drives or donating to an area school. If you’re more interested in contributing to a larger problem, you might be better off donating to national or international charities.

Research Your Charity

Before giving your money to any organization, it’s important to research their recent achievements. This can tell you how well they manage their donations and if your money will really be used to create positive changes in the world. If their achievements seem rare or sporadic, you may want to consider another charitable organization that contributes to the same cause.

Think About Taxes

You’re probably planning to make a regular donation that will equate to a percentage of your yearly income. For that reason, it’s also important to consider whether or not your donation will be tax deductible. The IRS maintains very strict guidelines as to which types of donations can be claimed as deductions. It can benefit you to research how those guidelines apply to the charitable organization of your choice, before you provide any donations.

Charities help us improve the world, but they can’t function without our donations. This doesn’t mean you should freely give to every charity that sparks your interest, however. By taking the time to research your choices, you can select a charity that appeals to you on a personal level and one which will do the most good with your donations. Smart giving produces better results.