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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Make the Most of Your 2022 New Year’s Giving Resolution

It is 2022 and there are many reasons for optimism, but there is also a clear need for action. We are entering a new year amidst a pandemic surge that is overwhelming hospitals across the country. Changing weather and intense disasters from years past are a trend expected to continue in 2022. After years of concern about public health and climate change, you may be feeling burnt out. That feeling is valid, and I hope that you will be able to take some time for yourself to rejuvenate. One form of self-care that I am advocating for this year is optimism. Embrace the notion that things will get better and that you can be part of the solution. Taking action can make you feel empowered and hopeful. To that end, I invite you to join me in a New Year’s Resolution around giving. Here’s how: 

Make a Resolution: 

This is a highly personal step, and your resolution may look however you choose. The important thing is to select something that is both meaningful to you personally and achievable within the year.

Develop Your Strategy:

We are all familiar with failed New Year’s Resolutions, and the negative feelings that come with them. Creating a comprehensive philanthropic giving plan right now - and, if needed, setting it on autopilot - can ensure your success and prevent disappointment. 

Follow these steps now to build your own strategy: 

  • Set Your Giving Budget: This can be a set amount or a percentage of your income, free time, belongings, or a combination of these and other things.
  • Decide on a Cause: What change do you want to be a part of this year? How do you want to see that change materialize? Where do you want to see that change happen?
  • Vet Organizations: Depending on the size and scope of the issue(s) you are choosing to address, there may be many organizations for you to choose from. You can use lists like Charity Navigator’s Hot Topics to find recommendations for high-quality organizations responding to immediate crises or calendared events, support specific causes through Charity Navigator’s Dedicated Funds, or search Charity Navigator to research nonprofit ratings to ensure the effectiveness of organizations you find elsewhere.
  • Select your Giving Frequency: ​​In general, charities thrive with consistent support. Making a monthly or quarterly donation provides an organization with a reliable stream of funds that allows them to plan for the future. However, processing donations can be costly. For smaller donations, organizations may prefer to receive lump sums. Similarly, organizations may face volunteer boom and bust cycles throughout the year. Scheduling a regular volunteer slot or offering to fill in when volunteers are scant can help bridge these gaps and keep nonprofits running smoothly. 
  • Choose Your Giving Mechanism: Whether you are providing your time, talent, or treasure, how you give matters. If you aren’t sure how organizations prefer to be supported, ask them. Then, follow through based on their request. You can make donations directly to organizations or use tools like the Charity Navigator Giving Basket to organize and manage your giving. (View a tutorial video on the Giving Basket here.)
  • Plan for Uncertainty: The past couple of years have made it clear that we are in a period of uncertainty. Consider setting aside a portion of your total planned donations for the year to be used in a case of unexpected and/or acute need.

Execute Your Vision: 

You have done all the hard work, don’t let it go to waste! Throughout the year, take the necessary steps to ensure that your resolution is met. Make use of tools like the Giving Basket to create one-time or recurring donations to the organization(s) you identified in your vetting step. Don’t be afraid to adjust your resolution as your situation and the world changes in 2022. 

Make sure you use the money you set aside for unexpected needs. It can be easy to adopt a holding pattern with funds that are earmarked for addressing the unknown, after all, how do you know when the worst has come? In truth, you can’t ever be sure. But don’t refrain from giving to victims of spring flooding for fear of summer hurricanes and fall fires. When you feel moved to give in response to an emergency, do so. If you refrain from giving in the moment and regret it, do not worry. Disasters and emergencies create long-term needs that donors can address even years afterward. 

As we head into the new year, I hope that we can all find joy in giving to improve our world. 

Wishing you a happy, healthy, and successful 2022.

About the author: Clarissa Coburn is a Charity Navigator contributor. 

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