New Year's Resolutions for Philanthropy

Guest Correspondence

With a new year comes the excitement of new possibilities, including the opportunity to be more intentional when you make an investment of your time, expertise or dollars for a charitable purpose 

Deciding what you want to get out of your giving will help you experience more joy in your community involvementand may lead you downsome unexpected and satisfying pathways in your personal and professional life  

Here are five resolutions for 2016 to help youhave the most impact, getting that joyousfeeling from giving when it feels just right and knowing that your gifts are truly making a difference.  

  1. Use passion as a requisite for investing your time ormoney in a causeWe live in a community where anask to participate in giving waits around every corner. Everycharitable endeavor qualifies as a “good cause,but what really lights the spark of generosity in your heart? Focus on the issues you are most passionate about and the organizations that will appreciateyour individual contributions.  

  2. Think before you give.  After you know the perfect charitable causethat speaks to your heart, find the right local organization for you. Chances are, there will be more than one nonprofit addressing the mission you care most about, and in some cases, many. Know which nonprofits are working in the mission focus area you are interested in, how they are different, and whether their programs and services are really making a difference.The Giving Partner is a great resource to learn more about hundreds of local nonprofit organizations in Southwest Florida. What questions should you ask about them? Readmy earlier column from July here. 

  3. Sharephilanthropic experiences with your circle of colleagues, friends and family.The power of volunteering or donating together can be an enriching experience that brings you closer to each other. Ask your friends, family or colleagues to propose ideas for a day or half-day of volunteering. Some organizations are better equipped than others to organize meaningful group projects; most will tell you what is possible if you contact them. Think about joining or creating a giving circle to pool yourdonationwith others fora larger gift to a cause important to your group. On birthdays or holidays, consider making a donation to an organization in honor of a loved one, inspiring them to learn about a new cause and perhaps to give as well.  

  1. Explore bigger movements and learn how you can get involved. Regional initiatives that are powered by smart, creative people are everywhere in our community. The Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading—a collaborative effort by foundations, nonprofit partners, and others to ensure that more children in low-income families succeed in school and graduate prepared for life—is just one example. Learn more at  

  1. Believe that no act of philanthropy is too small.Never believe that a donation or act of kindness is too small to make a difference. Every act of goodness has ripple effects and continues to make our community the kind of place we all want to live. And do not lose sight of familiar acts of caring that can mean a lot—checking on your housebound neighbors, being a thoughtful driver in our season’s traffic, holding the door for a senior. 

Join me in adopting one or more of these resolutions.  

It’s true that every one of us has the ability to impact another person, a cause, a community. Be the one in 2016. 

Roxie Jerde is the president and CEO of the Community Foundation of Sarasota County.

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