10 Ways to Get a Jump on Giving in the New Year

Photo by cogdogblog

Are you trying to cultivate a greater commitment to charity and generosity in the New Year? Me too. Here are ten ways you can get off on the right foot in January.

10) Call now to volunteer.

Everyone wants to volunteer over the holidays–me included. But what about January when it’s cold, and snowy, and most people are busy planning their Superbowl parties? That’s when a nonprofit may need you most.

9) Create a folder to keep all the receipts you’ll be collecting from charitable donations.

I did this the past year, and every month it gave me a visible benchmark of where my family was with our giving. More often than not, reviewing the folder made me realize that we needed to give more, not less.

8) Put your family and friends on notice.

Before I buy someone a gift, I first do a little snooping to figure out if they have a favorite charity I could donate to instead. This makes for a great surprise. I’ve also told family and friends that I don’t need anything for my birthday, but my favorite causes need a lot.

7) Clean out your closets.

I’ve been cleaning out my closets, attic, and basement this holiday vacation. I have great clothes, toys, electronics, and a whole bedroom set to donate to charity. This is nice stuff that I bet will give a family some joy, and maybe a new start in January.

6) Make a plan for including charity in your everyday life.

As a cause marketer, I’m always on the lookout for products and services that benefit great causes. Thankfully, these opportunities weren’t hard to find this holiday season. Cause marketing–partnerships between nonprofits and businesses that raise money for causes–is a growing area of focus for companies. It makes every day giving easy.

5) Get your kids involved.

Want to give your children a wonderful gift? Take the time to teach them about charity and philanthropy. I did this after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary, and it’s already paying dividends in how they see the world.

4) Pack up those unloved gifts.

Despite my request that my family donate to good causes in my honor, my mother still brought presents on Christmas. How many pairs of socks does one guy need? I appreciate it, Mom, but it’s all going back, and the cash, credit or item itself is going to charity.

3) Let go of the baggage.

I love this quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“Most of the shadows of this life are caused by our standing in our own sunshine.”

It’s so true! The resentment, sadness, depression, and regret in our lives is largely self-inflicted. We could live a more charitable and happier life if we only let some light in. Make this a priority in 2013.

2) Count your blessings.

If I ever have second doubts about giving to a good cause, I look around me and count all the wonderful things I have in my life. Even with my “shadows” I still have much to be thankful for. How could I not want to help and give?

1) Charity starts a home.

It’s an old saying but it’s true. I once knew a person that raised million of dollars every year for people that he didn’t know, but couldn’t act with charity and generosity to the people closest to him. It was truly sad. The person that needs you the most in the new year might just be an arm length away.