For many of us, the week after Thanksgiving kicks off a month-long shopping and bargain-hunting frenzy. First comes Black Friday, then Small Business Saturday, and finally, Cyber Monday. As we hit the sales, credit card in hand and eager to check those must-have items off our shopping lists, it becomes all too easy to forget the true spirit of the season–giving thanks and giving back.
In comes #GivingTuesday, a whole day dedicated to celebrating generosity and the spirit of giving. The annual event, which first began in 2012, occurs on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (this year it is tomorrow, Tuesday, December 1) and brings together charities, nonprofit organizations, businesses, and individuals to raise funds and spread awareness about important causes in need of support. Since 2012, more than 30,000 organizations have participated in the movement, raising more than $100 million for programs and services ranging from health and education to animals and the arts.
All donations–no matter how small–have the power to make a difference, but with so many great organizations and causes to choose from, it can be difficult to narrow down a “giving list.” Not sure where to begin? Below are 3 places to consider donating on #GivingTuesday:
Your Alma Mater
I know, I know–you’re still paying off those pesky student loans, but even a small donation can have a big impact for current and future students. Alumni donations fund everything from capital projects and student services to scholarships and research. With so many unique programs and departments, many universities now allow donors to specify how their money will be used. Were you a theater major? Request that your donation support the construction of your school’s new performing arts center. Biology whiz? Donate directly to the life sciences library. Whatever you choose, commit to making a contribution this giving season and spend the rest of the year rockin’ that old college sweatshirt with pride.
Do you remember how much fun you had playing soccer after school, or the joy you felt when you learned a cool new skill at Girl Scouts? These extracurricular activities may seem like distant memories, but they played an important role in helping you become the confident, responsible adult you are today. Unfortunately, due to factors like school budget cuts and strained family finances, many kids lack access to these kind of playful learning opportunities. Youth-development organizations (think: Boys & Girls Clubs, the YMCA, etc.) help fill the gap by providing a safe and inclusive space for students to play after school and by offering free or reduced-cost enrichment programming. Today, organizations exist to serve every imaginable interest, from web design to surfing (two of my personal favorites are Girls on the Run and the U.S. Soccer Foundation). Through unique, evidence-based programming, these organizations are helping kids across the country learn new skills, develop healthy habits, and build self-confidence–all while under the guidance of caring adult mentors. Do some research to find an organization that matches your unique interests, and help share the joy of your favorite pastime with the next generation!
For many of us, the holiday season is filled with rich foods, tasty treats, and plentiful plates. But did you know that 1 in 7 Americans struggles with food insecurity? National organizations like Feeding America and Share our Strength are working in communities across the country to eradicate hunger and help bring food to those who need it most. Consider supporting one of these organizations or donate directly to a food bank or meal center in your community (find your local food bank here).
Tip: Before donating, search your chosen nonprofit or charity on Charity Navigator. This independent charity evaluator provides financial and accountability ratings of most major organizations, allowing you to give with confidence.
If a financial contribution just isn’t in the budget this holiday season, consider giving your time instead. Volunteer to walk dogs at your local pet shelter, prepare a healthy meal for an elderly neighbor, or offer to tutor a young student freeofcharge. Find any way to give that is meaningful to you and start spreading those feel-good vibes!
Be sure to follow along tomorrow with #GivingTuesday and remember to share your best “#unselfie”–good karma looks good on you!
How will you celebrate the giving spirit this #GivingTuesday? Let us know below!
Nora Hall is a social impact communications strategist who works with nonprofit organizations nationwide. When she's not working, you can find her cheering for her favorite teams, playing soccer, or roaming the aisles of Trader Joe's (cookie butter, anyone?) You can follow her on Twitter @NoraCHall