Giving Thought: Add charitable giving to your New Year’s resolutions

Tamara Tormohlen
Giving Thought
Aspen Community Foundation, Lauder event, Aug. 13, 2018.
Steve Mundinger

Happy New Year!

As we bid farewell to 2018 and welcome 2019, let’s take a moment to reflect on the past year and prepare for the new.

For many in our community, 2018 continued to be a year of uncertainty. Some of our neighbors continue to struggle to make ends meet and feel heightened anxiety. Indeed, some of our neighbors continue to fear for their futures and that of their children. Our nonprofit organizations are working diligently to safeguard the health, education, and well-being of the most vulnerable members of our society — those hard-working families who make this community special.

The new year often inspires us to invoke promises to do more of this or less of that, and usually accompany the words exercise, eat or drink. These self-care resolutions are important. But what if we also incorporated resolutions about connecting and community? About giving and engagement? In case you are so inclined, here are a few that you might add to your list.

Just give. There is a lot of speculation about how the 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Acts will affect charitable giving. If the anticipated decreases in donations happen, our local nonprofit organizations are going to feel the hit. So, we encourage you to continue to give to the causes and organizations that matter to you. Not because of a tax benefit, but because it feels good. And it doesn’t matter the amount. A gift of any size is important and meaningful.

Give where you live (or visit). Whether you live here full-time, have a second home or just drop in for a vacation every now and then, you know how extraordinary the Aspen area is. It takes a lot of effort by a lot of people to maintain this vibrancy. And, behind the people are local, often small, nonprofit organizations working hard to ensure that everyone thrives. These organizations need your support and your support will make a big difference. (If you’re just passing through and would like some suggestions, please visit

Give more (or more frequently). If you are able, increase your giving amount and the number of organizations and causes you support. There are various ideas about the right amount for giving based on your income. Some give 10 percent, some give 50 percent, some sign up for the Giving Pledge and commit a majority of their wealth to philanthropy. And don’t limit your giving to once a year; local nonprofits need support year-round, multiple times. Many organizations now make it easy to make recurring donations throughout the year.

Give in someone’s honor. What better way to show your appreciation of others than by doing good in their name? It is a lovely gesture; the organization benefits, and the honoree is touched.

Give yourself. Your time, talent and energy are valuable. Share it with those causes and organizations to which you donate. Volunteering is a great way to not only connect with the organizations but to also connect with your community and to foster relationships with the beneficiaries of your support. And it can be good for your mind and body too. Studies show that volunteering makes you happy, increases your self-confidence, provides a sense of purpose, and can help you stay physically active.

So, this year, while you are making plans and setting goals for self-improvement, remember that we also have a similar obligation to support our community.

One person can make an incredible difference. Let that person be you and make 2019 the year you resolve to give.

Tamara Tormohlen is the executive director of Aspen Community Foundation.