Set goals, not resolutions, for giving this year

January 20, 2017 | GET MORE : Social Responsibility

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Five tips to help you set goals for how much of your time and money will go toward causes you care about

The start of a new year is a great time to set goals. Not everyone loves setting goals, but we know doing so helps us achieve our objectives and make forward progress. I try to keep my personal goals simple. I think about how I can prioritize my resources on what matters most. This includes, in my case, serving the community and setting an example for my children.

Every year, I set a goal for how much of my time I will commit to volunteering. At the same time, I work with my family to set aside the percentage of our income to give back to the community. It’s not always been easy to achieve those goals and the balance between time and money has shifted based on life stage.

When I was a young professional, I was able to commit a larger percentage of my time to volunteering. I had no children at the time, which made it easier to volunteer after work hours and on the weekends. When I first moved to Minnesota, I used the United Way to find a local organization and I volunteered there every week. Volunteerism helped me build meaningful connections in a new community. 

When I had children, I needed to prioritize my after-work and weekend hours with them and it became much more difficult to find the time to volunteer. It was at this point my husband and I decided to increase our monetary donations. If we could not donate our time, we wanted to make sure that deserving organizations were getting our financial support. 

Currently, our volunteer and financial goals are starting to equally balance. With teenage children (one who is driving!), I can find time to serve on work nights or on weekends. On the financial side, a few years ago, we decided to establish a family foundation setting aside a percentage of our annual income to give back.

At the end of the year, we meet as a family to review our foundation balance and history and determine which causes and organizations we want to fund. It is so wonderful to be together and discuss the issues of the day, the causes we care about the most and why and how we want to make sure that we contribute meaningfully to the change we want to see in the world. 

If you want to set community goals, here are some tips to help:

  1. Identify what the right mix is for this time in your life. Do you have the flexibility to volunteer? Are you able to commit to making financial contributions?
  2. Review how much time you were able to volunteer last year. Can you give more? Did you feel you were too busy to maintain your volunteer commitments?
  3. How much in financial contributions were you able to make last year? Reassess. Are you able to give more? Or perhaps you need to remain at the same level.
  4. Identify the organizations to which you want to donate your time and money. Set a schedule so you commit to those percentages. A regular volunteer or financial commitment, such as a payroll deduction, are great ways to make sure you honor and achieve your goals!
  5. Share your goals with family and friends and encourage them to join you. I have found you are more likely to maintain your goals if you share them.

Reba Dominski is senior vice president of corporate social responsibility for U.S. Bank, and the U.S. Bank Coach for community involvement.