by Tom Sims
You have heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Those are relatively new. They follow a long tradition from England for the day after Christmas called Boxing Day. These are all about commerce, consumerism, and bargains. What do you do after the pre-Christmas deals and before the after Christmas exchange? Someone asked and answered the question several years ago and created Giving Tuesday.
Giving Tuesday is the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the United States. It is often written as #GivingTuesday to promote hashtag activism and create viral enthusiasm. It is a movement in every sense of the word. It was first introduced in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation to counter the spirit of unfettered consumerism and the commercialization of the holidays with a counter-balanced emphasis on giving.
In one day, the masses are encouraged to contribute to churches and non-profit community benefit organizations that may be global, national, or local. According to the website, Giving Tuesday, “#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses, and communities in all 50 states and in countries around the world. Millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live.”
They further note, that while there are two days before Christmas that are focused on commerce, “#GivingTuesday is the opening day of the giving season: a reminder of the ‘reason for the season.’” The purpose is to create a groundswell and make a difference in communities in a season when people may be inclined to be generous.
“#GivingTuesday is a celebration of America’s greatest traditions: generosity, entrepreneurialism, community. Everyone has something to give. You can give time or expertise, monetary donations large or small, simple acts of kindness, food or clothing.”
The movement produced over $10 million in 2012 and grew to over five times that in 2016.
No one actually owns Giving Tuesday. The website acts as a clearinghouse for organizations and donors to connect with each other. They provide lists of registered recipients and resources, ideas, and artwork for groups trying to raise funds. There is even a directory where a donor can search for local organizations by city.
Giving Tuesday in the Central Valley is a rallying cry for many community benefit organizations to seize a moment of giving. It is an opportunity to connect with new and old friends who find the holidays to be just the right time to open their wallets and make a difference through their financial contributions.
As a confession, I must admit that I sometimes snarl at the notion of giving turkeys, toys, and groceries to the poor on one or two days of the year. It seems to make the giver feel good and relieves the needy folks of the pain of living in poverty for a few minutes. I admit that, but I also see the point of doing it in a meaningful way.
• First, people want to give during the holidays. We have a national, civil holiday of gratitude followed by various religious and cultural celebrations such as Solstice, Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa where giving is intrinsic to the themes of the season.
• Second, people need to give before the end of the year as they settle their tax deductions and close their books.
• Third, people are able to give because of year-end bonuses and assessments of their financial standing.
When want, need, and ability meet, there is a clarion call to action for the community benefit organizations and for the potential givers.
To respond to this locally, some of us set up a one-stop-shop on Facebook where people living in the greater Fresno area can come together with local helping organizations, meet-up, share opportunities, and post links, requests, and ideas about how to make the most of #GivingTuesday. It is simply called “Giving Tuesday in Fresno.” It is aimed at the non-profits and religious groups who want to raise funds, enlist volunteers, and make new friends as well as people who want to find places to donate and serve locally.
Facebook is the world’s largest online community and provides an easy platform and tools for linking, sharing, passing on information, and reposting on websites and other social media platforms. Backed up by Twitter, email, and a website, this page is a community of communities with a growing number of organizations sharing their holiday campaigns. The benefits for these serving communities are four-fold:
1. Acquisition of new friends, donors, advocates, supporters, and volunteers will be encouraged and facilitated.
2. Collaborative conversations can be created in a common space. No one organization can do everything needed for the changes needed in our communities. We work best when we work together.
3. Name recognition is enhanced and facilitated. When the year ends, these groups will still need to be known and seen as viable options for volunteers and financial support.
4. Opportunity giving will be promoted at a key time. Organizations have end-of-the-year needs that exceed putting temporary bandages on social problems. They are gearing up for the next year.
One of the components of the mission of the organization where I serve is to create collaborative conversations. We cannot think of a better way to do that than to give back to other groups who are benefiting our community. That is the philosophy behind the page. We are not competitors; we are collaborators. One giver may be more drawn to your organization; others to ours. They can easily scan the page and find what attracts them most.
Toys, meals, turkey, and parties during the holidays may lift the spirits of the poor for a day. They warm the hearts of givers as well. They also may inspire ongoing relationships. But the real work of alleviating poverty, improving the quality of life for all people, building community, promoting education, protecting the environment, and creating a healthier place to live is a daily task. It takes place week after week and year after year.
#GivingTuesday is an excellent time to initiate new relationships between people and organizations that serve these needs as well as to introduce opportunities and possibilities in a joyful and festive way. Regular giving and volunteering and giving is optimal, but entry points are where people’s hearts are touched and the holidays are a great time to start.
There are children in foster care and their families that need an extra hand during the season, homeless people who need a lift, immigrants who need a welcome, students who need a home away from home, shut-ins who need a visit, sick folks who need care, animals who need shelter, and worthy causes that need support. There are hands-on opportunities as well as hands-out possibilities all aimed at providing a hands-up experience.
If you represent a non-profit organization or religious group that is promoting a cause or opportunity, post a link and information on the page. If you are a giver, post your recommendations and stories of giving your time and resources. If you are a passive reader, stop by and read. There will be many suggestions and not just promotions. The page goes into high gear with the publication of this article.
Giving Tuesday is almost here. Don’t miss the opportunity to engage. Stop by, like the page, and share it with as many people as possible. More than that, choose a cause and make a difference,
Link: Giving Tuesday in Fresno