I have a soft spot for those in need. Most of us do, and it can be difficult knowing that there will always be people who need our help. Unfortunately, there is only so much we as individuals can do. This leads to the tough question: who should I help? To help you answer this question, I’ve broken down the process of deciding into a few steps, represented by questions. Follow along to find out to which charity you should donate.

What are your values?

Charities vary greatly, particularly in regards to their values. Charities run by religious or political organizations tend to operate strictly within the confines of these values, so it is important to make sure you agree with them. This is the easiest way to narrow down the pool of charities by a large percentage — maybe even 80%.

Who is in urgent need? -OR- Who do I feel most for?

After you’ve narrowed down your list to charities that share your values, you should consider who is in urgent need today. Someone who needs medical care will probably rank higher than someone in need of legal assistance. This is one way you can determine who could use your money right now.

On the other hand, you may have a strong passion to help a certain cause. It could be pet shelters or orphans, or even people persecuted for their religious beliefs. If there is a cause that hits your heart, narrow down your list to charities that help with that.

Where does the money go?

As many philanthropists know, the money you donate to an organization does not always go to the people in need. Now that you have a list of charities that all support one central cause, you should research what each of them spends their money on. Keep in mind that charities need to spend a certain amount on administrative costs, fundraising, and other non-aid areas. A good way to determine how well the charity spends its money is by looking at the amount raised versus the number of individuals helped.

After you’ve gone through these three steps, you should have a pretty good idea of which charities are on top. Although all charities need help, it is important to give to charities that really mean something to you, as well as ones that use their money wisely. Before you decide to donate to whatever charity appears next, go through this list to determine if there is a place you would rather donate.