This year, Tuesday, December 2 has been designated as “Giving Tuesday,” a global day dedicated to giving back. Begun in 2012 by a group of influencers, it now involves over 10,000 organizations worldwide.
This may sound like another gimmick, trying to solicit contributions by making us feel guilty, especially following Thanksgiving and the start of holiday shopping. As a result, many people will make quick online contributions and feel they have done their part. Giving to charity usually makes us feel better, at least for a short while — and there is always the tax deduction. But is there more to it than a few minutes online and a tax receipt?
There are over 2.3 million not-for-profit organizations in the USA. Some of them are quite familiar to us. We watch commercials for children’s hospitals, veterans’ programs, and animal rescue efforts. They all tug on our heart strings and they well deserve our concern and our contributions. These groups do important work and fill many gaps, often on a national scale.
On the other hand, many community charities are small. They operate without endowments or a solid financial base. Every year they have to raise all of their operating funds — enough to keep their doors open and to provide services that are badly needed. These include charities such as your local food bank, homeless shelters, and community centers that care for children and older citizens.
So how do you decide to whom and what to give? First of all, be as generous as possible. Small donations can make a big difference. Do make your online contribution to a favorite cause or two on Giving Tuesday, but every time you can, give something to the local organizations. Make it a habit to put your spare change in the containers at grocery stores and fast food restaurants. Buy an extra food item for the food bank and take your unwanted clothes to a donation center. Save your used books and CDs and donate them to the library or school book sale. Call one of the shelters or veterans groups to pick up furniture you no longer need. Donate frayed towels and old blankets to the animal shelter. These things are easy to do and, with a little practice, they will become a routine with a positive impact.
But don’t stop there. For a volunteer organization, your time is as important as your money. There are numerous ways to volunteer. You can organize a charity drive at your workplace or in your community. You can participate in a fundraising event like running a marathon or some other sporting event. You can find a program that needs assistance with transportation for patients, or doing crafts with children. Or you can decide to become a regular volunteer for a hospice or hospital or elementary school or church. You can set the number of hours you have available to give. They will be grateful for whatever you can provide.
Giving Tuesday is a great idea, one we should all support. But think what we could accomplish if each of us gave something to a good cause every Tuesday of the year.