New Year’s Resolutions
If you’re like most people you probably wrote down, or at least considered, a few resolutions for 2018. According to research, the most popular resolutions are 1) becoming more healthy and 2) getting more organized. Unfortunately, the data isn’t on our side. Less than 10% of resolutions are kept, and most are abandoned by February.
Maybe you have a goal to become more intentional with your philanthropy this year, find more joy and fulfillment through your giving or volunteering, or introduce your children to the importance of giving back to their community. The good news is that these resolutions are not destined for failure.
Following, we offer a pathway for a more inspired and fulfilling approach to giving (and living) throughout 2018.
Create a Vision
Do you currently have a written statement that puts a stake in the ground about the type of giving, volunteering, and community involvement that you want your family to embody? If not, take time to develop one. A good vision statement is:
- Aspirational – describes not only who you are today, but who you want to become
- Purposeful – focused on what you hope will be different
- Inspiring – compels excitement, passion, and belief
- Focused – specific enough to be tangible, definable, and concrete
A vision board can help engage young children in the process. Create a collage with the pictures, words, and inspirational quotes/phrases that represent your vision. Discuss what these images and words mean to you and place it in an area where everyone will see it. One family had artwork created with their vision statement and hung it next to the door to their garage to remind them daily of what mattered most.
A family giving vision statement may look something like:
Our family vision is to live a life of meaning and service to others. We choose to make a difference in this world, with an emphasis on our surrounding community. We focus giving of our time, talent, and means to causes that help protect endangered species and provide a path to permanency for children in foster care.
Moving from Vision to Action
A written vision is a great start. If you stop here though, you’ll probably end 2018 without making much progress toward achieving your vision. Your next step is to translate your vision into a set of definable goals that can be achieved in the year ahead. Good goals are SMART, (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-Sensitive).
Some examples of SMART goals for 2018 could include:
- At least four times during the year, we will volunteer as a family. The majority of our service will focus on serving foster families, with emphasis on opportunities for our kids to interact with foster children.
- We will participate in one multi-day mission trip to help ourselves and our children build a better understanding of the world.
- We will give 10% of our gross income to charities each quarter. Our giving will focus on protecting endangered animals and supporting children in foster care.
- To make these gifts more meaningful, we’ll make 3 more substantial gifts. To inform the direction of our gifts, we’ll have a conversation with organization leadership to understand more about their goals for growth.
- We will participate in at least three fundraising events, and invite our friends and colleagues to learn more about the causes that matter to us.
- We’ll use our gifts to make a difference alongside of our donations. One spouse, gifted with organization and leadership, may commit to chairing a fundraising event for a charity. Another spouse, gifted with a communications background, may offer pro-bono services to another.
Life is busy, and a meaningful approach to giving is rarely urgent. To keep you focused, build in accountability. Share your goals with friends and family. Dedicate one night each month as a family to discuss your giving or volunteering experiences and ideas. Share what you’re noticing about the world around you or read together through a book like, “When Helping Hurts.” Consider creating a 2018 Giving Calendar – with volunteer opportunities, fundraising events, mission trips, giving deadlines, etc.
Celebrating is an important ritual for families. It’s a time to recognize, support, and inspire each other. It helps us explore what’s working and why, and provides motivation to keep at it. Most importantly, it just plain feels good.
Consider holding a “Family Philanthropy Party” at the end of 2018. Sit down as a family and review your giving calendar. Total up how much you gave and how much you volunteered. Review your giving goals – how’d you do? What didn’t go as planned? Why? Discuss the following:
- What giving or volunteer experience most impacted you? Why?
- What broke your heart? Why?
- What or who inspired you? Why?
- What did you learn about our community – it’s needs and its strengths?
- What did you learn about yourself?
- What do you want to do similar and/or different next year?
Use this time of celebration and reflection to begin planning your 2019 giving. Practice these simple rhythms and watch your giving and volunteering become a source of deeper joy and greater impact with each passing year.