This year, slugging it out alongside Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday, is a young upstart in search of your holiday dollar. Unlike its competition though, it’s not looking for you to buy. It wants you to give.
Launched in 2012, Giving Tuesday is an initiative that seeks to create a national day of giving as a way to celebrate and encourage support for charities and volunteer activities. A corrective to the call for consumption that seems to kick off the holiday season.
It is a new tradition worth supporting.
More than 100 companies and charities in Arizona – including dozens based in Tucson, such as the Community Food Bank, BorderLinks, Handi-Dogs and Voices for Education — are participating in raising awareness of Giving Tuesday this Dec. 3.
Giving is nothing new to most of us. Americans are one of the most giving people in the world, generous both with our money and ourselves, so it was only a matter of time until a rallying cry for charity would seek to pull the focus away from shopping.
“It’s a really long-ingrained part of our culture that giving is part of who we are as a people. Giving is a part of a community, and communities build themselves,” Eileen Heisman, CEO of National Philanthropic Trust told us. “The simplicity of the Giving Tuesday message is what gets people to think about this.”
The reasons why we give are countless. They range from the desire to help the less fortunate to the joy of making a difference. As an expression of our faith or just a great way to get a tax break. Not a lot of people need help with the why, but many would like help with the how.
According to Heisman, while giving on impulse is not bad, giving more strategically will help more people in the long run. She suggests a few things to consider as you plan your contributions.
— Set a budget and stick to it. Know how much you can give so you can determine the best way to disburse that amount.
— Be focused. Give fewer, larger donations instead of spreading smaller amounts to more charities. Identify an organization to support and invest in that particular charity. Not only will they have more money to work with, they will spend less money soliciting donations if they have a steady base of support.
— Give to overhead. All organizations have operating costs. Once you know a charity well you can give an unrestricted gift instead of a donation for a particular project. Again, this helps groups with fundraising costs.
— Research. If you’re not sure what you want to give to, identify the causes that excite you and find out which charity addresses that issue (see box).
— Follow up. See where your money has gone. Most groups post their year-end reports on their website but you can always ask for information directly from the charity.
However one decides to give, doing so tightens the bonds between all of us as we acknowledge our part in the larger whole. So whether you decide to contribute on Giving Tuesday, or a giving Wednesday or Thursday, our community is stronger for it.