How to Create a New Year's Giving Goal
The final months of the year are widely recognized as the season of giving. From Giving Tuesday through holiday toy and food drives, a large percentage of charitable donations take place between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. For nonprofits, many of the monetary gifts we receive are given at the end of the year. This uptick in giving is both because goodwill is at an all-time high during this time and because it is the last chance to take advantage of the tax incentives which these gifts can provide.
There is quite a bit of evidence to support the claim that giving back makes us feel good and can also be beneficial for our health. From work deadlines to holiday shopping and related obligations, stress and anxiety are typically high during the end-of-the-year season. In this sense, a small gift or a few hours spent volunteering may yield a much greater return individually.
But is there a way to carry this spirit of benevolence and generosity throughout the entire year? As humans, we are often quick to associate a season with a set of activities and then quickly move on once that period has concluded. The first weeks of the year are usually devoted to kickstarting a new fitness or wellness routine, making some financial or relationship resolutions or setting out on a new career path. All of these are admirable goals. But this year, what if more of us included "give back " on our New Year's to-do list?
When it comes to helping others, there are so many recorded health benefits. Some of them include lower blood pressure, lower stress levels and better physical and psychological well-being. Charitable giving has also been linked to improving one's overall happiness and fostering a greater sense of connection to one's community. And nonprofits and other community organizations rely on the support of generous donors 365 days a year, not just in the winter months.
As part of your New Year's resolution this year, why not include giving back? Make your goal small, measurable and be specific. You will be surprised how easy it will be to develop a long-term habit of doing good. Here are four easy, simple ways to give back all year long.
Find a Nonprofit to Champion
Align your interests and passions with an organization in your community, and you will be sure to help those in need while also connecting with great people. This can be a relationship that is mutually beneficial and rewarding all year long. Think about your values and what causes align with them. Do you love helping children? Maybe you’re a big supporter of the environment? Whatever cause you care about, there is likely a worthy nonprofit that would greatly appreciate your support.
Volunteer blood donors provide all of the blood supply for transfusions throughout the United States. Most donations only take about 40 minutes. This time includes completing a donor registration form, receiving a mini-physical, donating about one pint of blood and enjoying refreshments after. Click here to find an upcoming blood drive at Ochsner.
Most nonprofits rely on volunteers to help because there simply aren’t enough staff members to handle all of the work and responsibilities. Volunteer hours go a long way towards allowing charitable organizations and nonprofits to meet their annual goals and live up to their mission statements.
At Ochsner, we take the time to match each volunteer’s interest and skills with departmental needs. Volunteers may choose between patient and non-patient care areas throughout the institution. Motivated by personal, moral or spiritual factors, Ochsner’s volunteers collectively donate over 40,000 hours of service annually. These volunteers represent a wide range of age groups, from as young as 18 to upwards of 80 years of age. If you would like to learn more about volunteering or know someone that may be interested, click here.
Add a Nonprofit into Your Will or Estate Planning
Having a will and estate planning are the best way to plan for the future and to protect what you love. You can also support the nonprofits that are close to your heart by adding them to your will. No matter who you are or how much money you have, your loved ones and the causes you care about are more likely to benefit from estate and financial planning work, including a will.
Ochsner has partnered with FreeWill, an online tool that provides legal forms and legal information that our supporters can use to create a valid will. FreeWill uses a clear step-by-step procedure that takes around 20 minutes to complete.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on Dec. 1, 2015.
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