The New Year has started and many of us have made fresh resolutions to help us be better people, achieve more or slim down. But what about financial resolutions? The dawn of 2014 is also a perfect opportunity to save more, pay off debts and, hopefully, give more to charity.

The global and local economies are picking up following the dark days of the financial crisis of 2008-2009 and many are earning more and therefore have bigger disposable incomes. Which is why it is important to consider those less fortunate than ourselves.

In fact, UAE commonly offers its help to other nations around the world in the form of relief funds and aid. Interestingly enough, UAE is ranked as the 16th highest contributor of foreign aid and in the previous year, it contributed 5.83bn AED in 137 different countries. But before you start donating to every charity you stumble across, be strategic. The secret to giving to others is to make sure you know which causes are important to you and to focus on those.

Then, when it comes to deciding how much to give, there’s no point leaving yourself penny-pinching to ensure others are looked after. Make sure all your lifestyle needs (groceries, utilities, education, housing, savings etc) are covered in your budget first and then decide an appropriate amount to give from what is left. To help you find the best way to give, here are some options:

Set up a standing order

If you are short of time but have plenty of cash, why not choose a charity you want to support and set up a standing order, giving a small percentage of your monthly income directly to the charity of your choice. That way you will ensure you don’t spend the amount you have set aside for the charity and will have the peace of mind that you are contributing.

Change the way you give gifts

When it comes to birthdays, Eid and the festive period, millions of dirhams are spent every year on unwanted presents that are forgotten within days of someone receiving them.  So why not give something more worthwhile. A gift that retains its value over and over again is a charitable donation.

This could be to sponsor a child in a poorer part of the world on behalf of the gift receiver or setting up a standing order to a charity that you know the receiver is interested in. If it is your birthday, wedding or the festive period coming up and there is nothing in particular you want, ask your friends and family to donate the money they planned to spend on you to a charity of your choice.

Get sponsored

This week will see Dubai’s running community take to the streets for the annual Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon.  Many of them will have been sponsored to complete the race by friends and family in the community. They will then donate the money raised to charity.

But you don’t have to run yourself into the ground to raise money. Whether it’s being sponsored to skydive, walk around Safa Park 10 times or to wash cars, there are numerous challenges you can set to help raise some money. And for those with young families, charity challenges are a great way to get the whole family involved.

Alternatively why not gather together all your unwanted possessions such as old clothes and shoes, books and toys and host a sale giving all the proceeds to your chosen charity. By making it clear that all proceeds are going to charity you will encourage more people to buy.

Give up your time

If giving money to charity is something you simply cannot afford, then donate your time instead. You don’t have to donate cash to feel the benefit of giving. There are plenty of worthy causes that could do with a helping hand whether it’s passing on your knowledge, helping to raise awareness for a cause or spending a day helping others. Volunteer in UAE, an organisation set up in 2008 to bring together residents who want to volunteer with charities and philanthropic organisations that need help, is always on the lookout for new helpers.  By signing up and stating how you would like to donate your time, you can be matched with causes that need your help.