Merrill Lynch financial advisor, Patrick Dwyer on five common charitable causes.

Improving the world in some way is a common goal of charities, but each has its own focus, mission, and methodology. When looking to donate, volunteer, or get involved with charities, you may want to consider which causes are most supported in order to find charities that best align with your passions and beliefs.



A large percentage of American citizens consider themselves religious and are aligned with religious groups, making religious charities an obvious choice for many individuals. Charities oriented around religion often provide educational programs, literature, and refuge, and they also aim to support practitioners of their specified faiths.



Most education-based charities aim to supply funding or resources to students and schools to promote high quality learning and equal opportunity. Charities focused on education may specialize in elementary, secondary, higher, or special education, and they may also operate to support education reform in the U.S. or promote accessibility in other nations.



Animal welfare is becoming one of the most popular causes supported by the public. Providing shelter or food to strays, rescuing abused animals, or generally supporting the welfare of pets and wild animals alike are common goals of these charities. Some charities may focus on endangered species on a global scale while others operate on a regional basis to promote the welfare, health, and adoption of stray animals.


Human Services

Perhaps the most broad category of causes, charities supporting human services provide aid to homeless individuals as well as children and families. Homeless shelters and food pantries are popular institutions that are created and maintained by such charities. Other charities that provide human services may focus on helping individuals with disabilities, single-parent families, or children in the foster care system.


Arts & Humanities

From libraries to national parks, charities that support the arts and humanities are often considered essential to human well-being. As such, many individuals support these organizations to promote literacy, education, expression, creativity, and community.


Other causes including healthcare, public benefits, and the environment are also popular among donors and volunteers. With the number of charities in existence, you are sure to find some that suit you when it comes to donating or serving.