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 according to studies, Saudi Arabia is considered one of the highest donors towards relief and charitable causes outsides of western countries. It has approximately donated $90 billion to Arab and Muslim countries between the years of 1975 and 2005.

Within Saudi Arabia, there are numerous charitable organizations to choose from. Since it is a Muslim country, there is a great emphasis on giving zakat (charity) as it is one of the five pillars of Islam and is compulsory for any financially stable Muslim. Therefore, you will find many Islamic charity organizations which will take donations for causes such as mosque renovations or Quran classes.

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. You will also have to do plenty of research to ensure your money is being well spent. If you’re looking to donate to a charity organization, check if it is transparent, credible and registered with the Ministry of Social affairs.

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.

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 an organization by signing up and stating how you would like to donate your time.

One of the best ways to keep giving is picking a charity or a cause which is close to your heart. Whether you have a soft spot for the elderly or strongly believe in educating women, your devotion towards the cause will help you make time for it. Not to mention, promoting a cause you’re closely connected to makes the experience all more fruitful.