How to Resolve to Give More Generously

Researchers estimate that 60 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions, yet only about 8 percent of us are successful in achieving them. This year, why not resolve to give more generously, whether financially or with your time, to the causes you’re most passionate about? You’re still working toward a meaningful and productive goal, but by involving other parties, you’re now also increasing your accountability—and, in turn, your chances for succeeding. Here’s a simple plan to get you started.

Start with a budget
Donating to a nonprofit, no matter how close its mission is to your heart, is a big ask. But you’d be surprised to know just how far a relatively small amount can go—as long as it’s made consistently. So, rather than fret over how you can scrape together a larger year-end contribution, take a look at your monthly budget and see if there’s room for a sustaining gift, or an ongoing monthly donation.

Approaching charitable giving as a monthly subscription is easier for many of us to digest because it’s a model we’ve become familiar with throughout the rest of our lives. And nonprofits love it because recurring donations allow more flexibility with their planning than one-time donations, which can be wildly unpredictable to forecast.

The same sort of model can also be used to help figure out how much of your time you can give. Spend a few days taking note, literally, of how you spend your time. And be honest with yourself. While you may feel like you’re spread thin, your daily, two-hour Instagram habit may indicate otherwise. It can be hard to appreciate just how much time we spend on things like social media until we’re faced with an objective accounting of our time.

Then tune into your instincts
Once you have an amount in mind—dollars or time—take a few minutes to think through the social issues you’re most passionate about. It can be an enlightening process if, until now, you’ve always given wherever and whenever needs have presented themselves.

It’s natural to want help in as many ways as you can, but your contributions will be most effective when they’re focused on a couple select nonprofits.

And find a place that speaks to you
Finally, approach the charities you’ve homed in on to ask about their needs. Every charity stands to benefit from volunteer support and financial contributions, but some have very specific ideas about how they employ them. By having a conversation about how you could fit into the picture, it lessens the potential for chafing down the road. After all, you wouldn’t propose on the first date, would you?

Take the time to get to know a charity. And, allow them to get to know you. Because your best hope for making this resolution stick is finding a place where you feel you belong.