So you want to give back to your community, to support great causes in an effort to make a small difference in the world? Yes. Me too.

If you have dreams of becoming a large-scale philanthropist (or you hope to, in any way, put your money behind your convictions and concerns), it might be harder than you expected to make them a reality. Sure, while it seems easy to write a check and send it to the correct association, you want to make sure you’re making the most effect. So there should be a great deal of methodology and thought behind your good deeds. Here are three ways that you can begin on the right footing.

Find a Calling

Whatever you want to call it–a calling, a niche–you’ll want to choose a focus and to narrow in on the particular cause you hope to bolster. Ideally, you’ll use your energy and resources in one or two areas as opposed to spreading yourself too thin over a large number of causes.

Outline a Strategy

This might be the most vital part of how successful your altruistic efforts are. A solid plan will take you far. Consider the causes where you anticipate making gifts, think about how you anticipate making those gifts, and even with whom you will partner. Contemplating these key things before hand will help give you course of action.

As for the how of making gifts, remember: You can give resources, time, physical space, or you can even set up your very own charity to funnel money into a cause.

Consider Your Legacy

What sort of effect do you hope you’ll leave on the world or on a particular cause? How do you want to be remembered? Let your answer to that question guide your philanthropy. In all things in life, fleshing out your objectives is key to achievement. Knowing where you want to be or where you hope to be is the first step to charting the course to actually get there.