Choose Your Resolution

New Year’s resolutions don’t have to be long lists of things you’ll never get to. Instead, pick one cause or charity to support in 2017. Here’s how.

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This is the time of the year when we make resolutions – to lose weight, to be better with our money or just to be a better person. But instead of making multiple resolutions that most of us never keep, what if we just decided to do one thing in 2017 to help make our world a better place? Surely one resolution is easier to keep than many.

Figuring out what to do, though, can be a challenge – there are so many organizations that need help and so many ways to give back. Candice Lepage, a Guelph, Ontario-based communications professional, is already wondering how she’ll give back in the New Year. “My goal for this year has been to live more intentionally, and I realized that I haven’t been very intentional with my giving,” she says. “It’s something for me to think about for 2017.”

Ask yourself what kind of impact you want to have on people. Consider creating a “multi-plan,” where you’ll write down several things you care about and then narrow it down from there.

If you’re having trouble deciding on what cause or charity to concentrate on, there are ways to cut through the noise, says Paul Nazareth, vice-president, community engagement, at CanadaHelps, a site that describes itself as a one-stop shop for people and charities. Start by asking yourself what kind of impact you want to have on people. Consider creating a “multi-plan,” where you’ll write down several things you care about and then narrow it down from there, he says.

Once you’ve decided on one or two causes to support, it’s time to do a little research. Nazareth suggests checking your charities’ overheads, including administration costs, salaries and how much money they spend to raise money. The information is usually available on a charity’s site or through the Canada Revenue Agency, and it can indicate how they’re using their donations. Most of the money should go to fulfilling the charity’s mandate.

Also, consider calling and asking for a tour. This is a great opportunity to ask questions about how charities are meeting their goals, including what metrics they’re using and how they’re tracking them. Get as much reading material – such as annual reports – as you can, and read it all. Nazareth says people choose a charity with their emotions, but the final decision should be made with their heads.

When you do decide on what cause to support in 2017, remember that it’s the start of a relationship and you should want that relationship to be a long one. Lepage is mulling her choices, but does hope to focus on two things: something personal, and something that helps the greater world. Her New Year’s resolution right now is to just start attending local meetings to see what’s out there and how she can contribute. “I want to start going to local events and learning,” she says. “Not saying anything, just listening and learning.”

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