Gasp! 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% 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.
With most of the population ready to put 2020 firmly in the rearview mirror, we may be overrun with all types of new year’s resolution ideas. Dismantle racism. Be a better human being. Don’t hoard toilet paper. 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. As the minutes ticked down on December 31 and a new day rolled over to January 1, 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 steppingstones put in place to be most successful.
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 can 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 does not 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.
And there could not be a better time to do that than 2021. Every sector of our economy has faced enormous challenges in the past year, and they all still need our support as we enter this new year. The nonprofit sector been dealt a double blow — reduced revenue and increased demand as more individuals, families and communities are needing and relying on our support than ever.
The Alliance can help you find ways meaningfully connect to nonprofits in Arizona throughout the year. Visit our arizonanonprofits.org and click on the Connect with the Sector tab to find a nonprofit to support this year, and save the date for Arizona Gives Day coming up on April 6 (www.azgives.org).
by Kristen Merrifield, CAE, CNAP is chief executive officer of Alliance of Arizona Nonprofits