Becoming a philanthropist entails following the same type of process that you would undertake in pursuing any professional career. It may also require starting small and working your way up a ladder of succession until you reach a position that allows you to do the most good. This brief guide can help you get started.

Choose an Area of Interest

While it would be nice to contribute to every cause you learn about, that will prevent you from being an effective philanthropist. Instead, choose a specific area of interest that you feel passionate about and one that will hold your interest over a longer period of time. If possible, choose something that has affected you personally so you’ll feel the most empathy for those you’re trying to help. As you grow as a philanthropist, you may expand your areas of focus to involve multiple causes.

Do Your Research

Once you know what area of interest you want to explore, you’ll have to choose a specific organization to join or support. This will require extensive research, but most of it can be done online. You should start by reading testimonials from others who have previously worked with various organizations. It will also be helpful to review each organization’s social media posts. This will help you verify that they do what they claim to do, and it will help you to see how active the organization is by checking the dates of each post.

Contribute Something Unique and Effective

While volunteering your time will help you get involved, you won’t excel as a philanthropist by simply putting in your time. Instead, look for the areas that need the most help and come up with new strategies for bringing about change. If you’re working to end homelessness, try to come with a new way to provide shelter for the homeless in your community. If you can create a new, self-sustaining strategy, you may be able to succeed where others have failed.

When it comes to philanthropy, it’s important to realize that the results you achieve will be equal to the effort you put into it. You shouldn’t be timid about using your imagination and sense of creativity to bring about change for whatever cause you choose to support. When you bring innovation to a cause, you can improve the lives of more people than you realize, and you’ll achieve success as the philanthropist you always wanted to be.

Originally published on Andrew Elsoffer‘s website.

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