Don’t Put Charitable Giving on Your New Year’s Resolution List

by Kristen Merrifield

kristen-merrifieldGasp … Did I really just tell you to not put giving on your list of resolutions? Yes, indeed, I did. But why? New Year’s resolutions are a great way to inspire, nay force, yourself to do something good to improve yourself or those around you. Lose ten pounds, complain less, read a book a month, save more … give more. And yet, many of us find ourselves back to our same old habits by the end of January. The statistics are bleak: Only 8 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them. In fact, if you want to start going to the gym, start on February 1 and you won’t have to fight anyone over the treadmill closest to the TV.

While resolutions are, normally, rooted in the desire to do good for yourself or others, the practice itself may not be the best structure to truly make a change. While it’s easy to flip the page on your calendar and change from December to January, it may be unrealistic to simply “flip the switch” and become a different person. Instead, there may be some planning involved, some education needed, and some stepping stones put in place in order to really be most successful.

This was indeed the case when I lost 50 pounds a few years ago. This wasn’t a New Year’s resolution success story; in fact, I had made the resolution many times over and never reached this goal. I actually started in March, and I began with the very small baby step of drinking two bottles of water every morning for three weeks. You may have often heard that it takes 21 days to create a habit, and I put that theory into practice, making another small change every three weeks. The idea was to build good habits over time, not to simply stop doing something one day and start doing something else the next.

This holds true when we talk about charitable giving and the bigger idea of philanthropy itself. You may not consider yourself a philanthropist unless you have the ability to write a million-dollar check. But philanthropy, at its root, means having “the desire to promote the welfare of others.” When we engage in charitable giving, in any way or amount, we are building the spirit of philanthropy within ourselves and our community. But it doesn’t happen overnight. Instead of simply adding “giving more” to our list of resolutions, we can start with small steps over time to become a philanthropist in our own unique way and make an impact on causes that mean the most to us.

The Alliance can help you find ways to meaningfully connect with nonprofits in Arizona throughout the year. Visit our website and click on the Connect with the Sector tab to learn more, or check out the article in this section. Finally, save the date for Arizona Gives Day coming up on April 4, 2017.

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