It’s the exciting start to a new year, and if you’re anything like us, you have a sizeable list of resolutions taking up residency on the front of your refrigerator.
So many resolutions revolve around giving up detrimental habits or vices to improve health and wellness. Have you made a resolution to instead give back? Are you unsure of where to start? It’s easier than you think.
1. Pick a cause you’re passionate about.
For a lot of people, this can be easier said than done. Moved to tears by the ASPCA commercials scored by Sarah McLachlan, but more committed to preserving visual art in an increasingly digital world? That’s OK. Discover your passions, and compose a list ranking the causes nearest to your heart. You don’t have to be a tireless crusader to make a difference close to home, and you don’t have to commit all of your giving to one cause. If your interests seem disparate, you can use your giving to benefit them all.
2. Set your limits.
That refrigerator you’ve posted your resolutions to? We bet it’s cluttered with your kids’ schedules, bills to be paid and more commitments and invitations than you feel you can handle. Take a deep breath; don’t give up on giving back. Assess your situation and determine how much you can give. If you want to give an annual or monthly donation, look at your budget and determine how much you can give. Most fundraisers offer concrete examples of how your money is being used to help you grasp what size donation is appropriate for the cause.
Giving back doesn’t have to be complicated. Just Give allows you to set up an automatic recurring donation of as little as $10 per month. The pre-set donation is deducted from your account on the first of every month and sent to the charity of your choice. You can designate your gift to a specific program, or make it as a gift or memorial donation in a friend or loved one’s name.
If you want to get your hands dirty, pick one regular day a month (i.e. the second Thursday) to volunteer. If your passion is education, find a school organization looking for tutors. Organizations would love your help, even if all you can give is a few hours a month.
3. Find a particular charity.
Websites like Charity Navigator and GiveBack make organizing your giving simple and streamlined. Charity Navigator allows you to browse nonprofits based on a category of interest; these are then vetted and rated on financial health, accountability and transparency, helping you to determine which organizations are worthy.
GiveBack allows you to create your own “Personal Foundation” to accumulate donation dollars. Others can fund your efforts or you can have money directly deducted from your paycheck. When you’re ready, give the money away to one charity or many.
Can’t find a philanthropy that quite suits your interest? Start a small-scale fundraiser for the initiative you think most needs you attention, and create an eye-catching, professional grade site using Fundly. You can incorporate videos, photos and blog-like updates to really sell your message.
4. Stick with it.
The benefits of giving back are well documented. Wharton Business School professor and author of the bestseller “Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success” Adam Grant posits the most successful people are givers—not takers. And research from the Corporation for National & Community Service reveals that charitable work literally makes the heart grow stronger. So make this a New Year’s resolution you’ll actually stick with. The benefits of volunteering and of giving back—combatting depression, forging new relationships and developing a connection with your community—will help those other Better You resolutions really make a difference.
Already dedicated to giving back? Make It Better Founder Susan B. Noyes has tips to raise more money for your favorite nonprofit this year. And if you need even more assistance, check out our Tech Mamma Lounge class with Susan, Thursday, Jan. 16 from 7 to 8 p.m. She’ll teach you the fundraising fundamentals to get the most out of your efforts.