If you’re like 40 percent of Americans, you’ve probably set a New Year’s resolution. And if you’re like most of them, you’re pretty close to failing to keep it.

But don’t give up! Just because people are already failing—or you’ve already fallen off the fitness wagon—doesn’t mean it’s too late to set some goals for the year. Especially if your goals involve giving back.

“Volunteers are essential to the survival of nonprofits and other organizations year-round,” says Utah Lt. Governor Spencer Cox. “It is important to remember needs exist beyond the holiday season and volunteers can always help.”

Here are some ideas on how you can set some 2018 goals to give back to your community and keep your resolutions:


Decide what you want to do

Many people fail to keep their New Year goals because their heart isn’t in it, or they’re not committed. If you’re going to make giving back part of your life, first figure out how you want to give.

  • Money: Nonprofits always welcome monetary donations, and sometimes it’s preferred. For example, Community Action Services and Food Bank can take $1, use its leveraging power and buy 15 pounds of groceries. That $1 donation can feed a family of four for a day.
  • Goods: If you’d like to donate items or your services, there are plenty of opportunities at nonprofits. Food banks everywhere are always looking for donations of nonperishable food, fresh food, and toiletries. Many publish lists of needed items, so you could hold a collection drive yourself. There are nonprofits like the Utah Refugee Connection that puts out calls for donations via Facebook for specific goods. Sometimes it’s looking for items for kits for special occasions, including back-to-school, Mother’s and Father’s Day. Community Action Services and Food Bank also collects kits to help clients, including hygiene supplies, nutrition for kids, birthdays and supplies for the homeless.   
  • Time: If you’re willing to donate your time, volunteer opportunities are everywhere. United Way and JustServe publish ways and places to volunteer throughout Utah County, including at Community Action Services and Food Bank. These websites make it easy to find a cause about which you feel passionate. Whether it’s helping people pull themselves out of poverty through the Circles program, offering medical treatment for people without insurance (if you’re a health professional), translating Spanish to English, fixing bikes, or something else entirely, there’s a way for you to help.

Deciding how you want to serve is the first step toward keeping your service New Year’s resolution.


Be realistic

Everyone’s life circumstances are different, so your service commitment needs to be tailored to you. Think about your life. Figure out how much free time you have every week or month. Then decide how much of that time you’d like to dedicate to service. Setting ambitious goals may seem like a good idea at the first of the year, but it’s not always the best plan. Here are some valuable guidelines for resolution-setting:

  • Don’t give up if you have a setback. Studies suggest that it’s a good idea allow to yourself a mistake or two when trying to accomplish goals.
  • Be specific about your goal. You won’t be able to achieve vague resolutions.
  • Make it measurable. Once you decide on the details, set a timeline and keep track of what you’re doing.

Once you set your resolution or goal, figure out a realistic way to accomplish it. Consider your schedule and budget and how much time, money or goods that you can give.


Be accountable

One way to stay on track with your service resolution is to be accountable. This year, UServeUtah asked people to complete an online form to pledge to serve during 2018. If you’re not interested in taking an online pledge, get together with a friend or family member to keep each other accountable for your service resolution. Another way to be accountable is to commit to a specific agency for time or goods. Being accountable to someone else will keep you on track with your resolution.

It’s never too late to set a resolution or goals for the year. If you want to set a goal to give back to your community, then get started now by deciding how you want to give, being realistic, and staying accountable.