Kenyan farmer poses outside of her home in Marsabit CountyKenyan farmer poses outside of her home in Marsabit CountyKenyan farmer poses outside of her home in Marsabit County

10 New Year's resolutions that give back

10 New Year's resolutions that give back
Story31 December 2022

You may have read the scary statistic that most New Year’s resolutions don’t last through the end of January. 

It’s not that we aren’t built for change: Many of the millions of people Concern works with each year are able to transform their lives and circumstances through changes in habits, attitudes, and traditions. So what’s the issue?

Perhaps it’s a matter of making the right resolution. In many cases, having a resolution that goes beyond the gym or your bank account means that you can see the knock-on effects of your new habits.

Here are 10 ideas for New Year’s resolutions that give back.

1. Make charitable giving a habit

Donating to an organisation like Concern means that over 90% of your money will go wherever it is needed most, to the people who need it most. Our life-saving work tackles the root causes of extreme poverty in 25 countries around the world, and even the smallest of donations can transform lives in any number of ways, including: 

  • Providing the seeds, tools, or training that allow a family to build a secure livelihood
  • Delivering vital nutrition that brings a baby back from the brink of starvation
  • Supporting a child with the education they need for a brighter future
  • Helping families displaced by conflict get safe and dignified shelter 
  • Empowering vulnerable women to overcome gender inequalities that keep them in poverty
  • Funding any of Concern’s larger innovations that help entire communities break the cycle of poverty

Beyond a one-time donation, however, setting up a recurring monthly donation in 2023 carries compound interest.

Our monthly supporters allow us to plan for the unexpected crises and emergencies that have increasingly become the rule rather than the exception. The best part? You can set it up once and then let it automatically process each month, just as you would with a news or app subscription. Think of it as subscribing to an end to global poverty.

2. Cut down your food waste and eat more sustainably

Money is important, but it’s not the only way you can give back with your new year’s resolution. Every year, one-third of all food produced is wasted - that’s over 1 billion tonnes. Producing this wasted food also wastes other natural resources: It requires an amount of water equal to the annual flow of Russia’s Volga River, and creates 3 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases.

Against large numbers, your own food waste may seem insignificant. But every step taken towards a more sustainable and equitable food system is a necessary step in the right direction. You also stand to save as much as 33% of what you spend on groceries if your own food waste is in line with the global average. 

Want to do more with your own pantry to help address issues like climate change and hunger? There are even more ways to eat sustainably at home - and we even have some recipes for cooking with food you might grow in your home garden.

» Related: How to expand your diet and eat more sustainably.

Young woman standing in a kitchen garden in Kenya
Robe (18) under the pawpaw (papaya) tree in her mother, Iladho's kitchen garden in Kalacha, Kenya. Concern has supported mother of 5, Iladho to grow a healthy and varied kitchen garden in Chalbi desert. Iladho has recently started to teach Robe how to look after the garden. (Photo: Jennifer Nolan/Concern Worldwide, Feb 2020)

3. Reduce your carbon footprint - and hold companies and governments to account for the same

Climate change remains one of the defining challenges of our generation and we all still have the opportunity to address our own behaviour and do our part to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Small changes can make a big impact.

Eating less meat and more plants (which would also help you to eat more sustainably) is a good start.

When it comes to environmentalism in the home, simple things like unplugging devices not in use can make a big difference. In the United States alone, so-called ‘vampire power’ is responsible for draining up to $19 billion in energy every year. Ending overnight charging habits can not only fight against climate change, but it will also reduce your bills and reduce any fire risks due to faulty wires.

We have more ideas on how you can help stop climate change (often from your own living room).

But you can also go beyond your own home. As COP27 has shown us, we will only be able to fully address the effects of climate change when governments and industries take steps towards reducing carbon footprints and honouring climate justice. You can vote with your wallet by supporting companies that are taking these measures, or lobby other businesses to do the same. You can also contact your TD to let them know that you are in support of local and national policies aimed at addressing the climate crisis and honouring agreements like the Paris Climate Accord and COP27.  

» Related: What can I do to help stop climate change?

Malawian farmer demonstrates a solar-powered water pump
Mcfreson Aaron (33) is a farmer in Mkulira village, Mwanza District. Aaron has 2 children 10 and 7 years old. Aaron explains how he uses the solar powered irrigation pump and other climate smart agricultural practices help him and his village. (Photo: Chris Gagnon/Concern Worldwide)

4. Pick one issue to learn about throughout 2023

Trying to understand and care about every issue in the world today is an impossibly tall order. Many of the crises facing the countries where we work are connected to centuries of history, and many of the current emergencies are linked to several interconnected factors. 

Rather than trying to be an expert in everything - something not even Concern staff members attempt to do! - in 2023, pick one thing to learn more about. Do you care about the global refugee crisis? The conflict in Ukraine? If those topics even seem a bit daunting (which, to be fair, they are), you could even narrow your focus to, say, gender inequality in Bangladesh or the root causes of world hunger

We have hundreds of resources on our website to help you understand the top-level facts about what we do and where we work, historical timelines of how certain crises came to be, in-depth reports on some of our initiatives, and more.

And there’s always recommended reading at the bottom of each of our blogs. You can select 12 now and bookmark them to read one resource each month, or be more ambitious and find a new piece on our site to read every week. On the News section of concern.net, you can toggle all of our articles by country or area of focus (including education, gender equality, and health and nutrition).

5. Get your feet wet on the subject of water

We often overlook the role that water, along with sanitation and hygiene services (collectively known as WASH), plays in our lives - not to mention the role that WASH plays in ending poverty. 

Less than 1% of the world’s water supply is usable to us. The rest is saltwater, ice, or underground. And we have to make that <1% last for 7.9 billion people. The global water crisis is proof that we’ve come up dry: The latest reports from the WHO and UNICEF show that hundreds of millions of people are affected by a lack of water for drinking and cleaning. As we’ve seen with the increase in cholera cases around the world in 2022, this lack of water can have life-threatening consequences. 

We’re all guilty of wasting some water, when we ignore dripping faucets, over-water our lawns, or ignore the free tap water served to us at a restaurant. Some of these may seem like minor inconveniences, but they add up: The average family can waste 180 gallons per week, or 9,400 gallons per year, due to household leaks. Add this all up and we’re looking at roughly 900 billion gallons of water lost annually. 

Water stewardship is a global responsibility, and we need every community in the world to help. You can start at home by conserving water use and fixing any leaks. You can also learn about some of the ways that Concern is addressing the global water crisis.

Girl in Cité Soleil, Haiti, drinking clean water out of a jerry can
A girl drinks water from a fountain in Cité Soleil, a district of Port-au-Prince, Haiti. (Photo: Dieu Nalio Chery/ Concern Worldwide)

6. Donate your time

There are more ways to support the causes and charities you love beyond donating. Even more valuable than your money is your time. Concern accepts both volunteers in Ireland as well as international volunteers

In Ireland, our amazing team of volunteers help us with our annual Concern Debates programmes in schools, adjudicating our student debaters. (All adjudicators receive training on how to do so based on the Concern Debates marking sheet.) This is a great way to pass on guiding values and humanitarian principles to the next generation of changemakers, as well as a chance to learn from our wonderful students. 

Other volunteer opportunities in Ireland include collectors who assist our street and church gate collections year-round. Our collections usually only require a few hours of work on one or two days a year for volunteers, which is great if you want to help but have an already busy schedule. 

Want to make a bigger commitment? We’re often in need of skilled volunteers to help support our work overseas. These positions generally require some previous work experience or relevant qualifications and, of course, a shared commitment to our goal of eliminating extreme poverty.

St Kilian's German School supporters, staff and Debates Champions. Photo: Ruth Medjber / Concern Worldwide.
St Kilian's German School supporters, staff and Debates Champions. Photo: Ruth Medjber.

7. Plan for your future - and help others plan for theirs

Perhaps it’s not the merriest way to start a new year, but there’s rarely a bad time to consider writing a will. And there are many benefits to doing so: You can ensure that your wishes are known, and that your loved ones are provided for in your absence. Providing a gift in your will is also an opportunity to create a lasting legacy that could benefit the lives of generations of people long into the future. We understand that loved ones are your priority, so any size gift you choose to leave us, no matter how big or small, is hugely appreciated and spent in a way that will make the biggest difference.

If you’ve been meaning to get started on your own will but don’t know where to start, Concern Worldwide has partnered with LawOnline to offer you a free online will-writing service. Once you have drafted your will using LawOnline's will and codicil drafting service, you also have the option to have it reviewed by one of their solicitors at a discount. You do not have to include Concern in your will to take advantage of either of these offers. 

8. Support women-owned businesses

Gender inequality remains a problem in every country around the world, with one of the most persistent issues being the gender pay gap. You can help take a stand by supporting businesses owned and led by women.

No matter where you are, you can also use Yelp - which, in 2019, introduced a women-owned badge for organisations - to find women-owned businesses.

Female farmer and small business owner in Malawi
Conservation farmer and small business owner Esime Jenaia in Chituke village, Malawi, with her neighbour Esnart Kasimu. (Photo: Kieran McConville/Concern Worldwide)

9. Make fundraising your new hobby

Even your non-charity hobbies - from a weekly table quiz to running a marathon each year to a once-in-a-lifetime skydiving trip - can give back. Commit to making one of your plans for 2023 a fundraiser for Concern with our easy-to-use pages making virtual donations easy and secure. We even have ideas for boosting your fundraising pot from some of our most successful fundraisers. 

If you’re looking to expand your social group and make more friends in 2023, you can also join a team and fundraise together for Concern - or, if you want to make it a group effort at work, we also have corporate fundraising options

Concern Challengers starting on the UK Challenge. Photo: Concern Worldwide.
Concern Challengers starting on the UK Challenge. Photo: Concern Worldwide.

10. Give back like it’s your job - literally

Speaking of the workplace, if you want to make giving back your full-time job, there are jobs available with Concern Ireland, Concern UK, and internationally.

Many of the vacancies at Concern don’t require advanced technical knowledge of certain areas of work (like humanitarian aid or irrigation).

Backgrounds in finance, marketing, development, IT, programme coordination, and more are all essential aspects of Concern’s team of over 4,700 people. The different experiences we all bring to the table are what make us stronger as a global team of humanitarians.  

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