#Giving Tuesday. Huh?
A Day to Make a Difference
I bumped into #GivingTuesday last year at this time and wondered what it was all about. Not only was my impact a surprise, it actually made me feel good!
The website for #GivingTuesday exists to help make people more aware of this global day of giving, and giving back. #GivingTuesday follows two other widely known days that include Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It's a day that, according to the website, "kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving." I'm a fan, particularly because I happen to work in the business of fundraising and have clients who make use of #GivingTuesday as a way to encourage their members to make their annual charitable gifts. Yet, when I plugged in my address to find local places that participate in #Giving Tuesday, here's the message I received:
Given the above, we'll just have to find our own local organizations and small businesses to support since we live in a rural area not covered by #GivingTuesday's web search engines. And that's what this article is really all about.
Of course, if it had been up to me to pick a day, I'd have suggested #GivingWednesday, the day before Thanksgiving in the U.S., and two days before Black Friday makes its dark appearance on the national and international stage. Why? Because my heart lies with the heart and soul of humanity, which is to say I'd much prefer to encourage people to give to local people and local causes than to go out and fall into the large commercial pit of frenzied shopping in big box stores or through "big box" online retailers on the Friday and Monday following Thanksgiving.
If #GivingTuesday fell on the Wednesday prior to Thanksgiving, it would send a strong message during the Thanksgiving holiday that all of us could do better to give thanks to community-related non-profit causes and local businesses by supporting them first with purchases and donations before we spend money in response to the larger, commercialized efforts that large retailers have driven to great heights. Lines at the malls or big box stores on Black Friday? I'd prefer not. I'd much prefer to shop at the local thrift shop, or second-hand clothing store knowing that a place like Listen Community Services here in the Upper Valley will do great things for people in our community. Listen offers a food pantry, heating assistance, a teen life skills program, community dinners, and four different thrift stores in Canaan and Lebanon, NH, and two in White River Junction, VT.
Photo: Listen Community Service website.
Of course, on #GivingTuesday, I really like to give something to Listen and other non-profits in terms of my time or, and talk about a mutually satisfying experience, cleaning out my basement and finding long-unused items to donate to several good local causes. Some of these causes include The Upper Valley Haven in White River Junction and the ReCOVER store of Cover Home Repair also in WRJ.
Sign in the reCOVER Store of Cover Home Repair. (Source: COVER website)
Getting the family involved in dropping off an old table or set of chairs, a working but unused humidifier, or even some old tools is a great way to help educate your children about the importance of community service and giving back. It'll make you all feel good.
So, why else would I suggest #GivingWednesday as an addition to #GivingTuesday? Well, it's because it would give us all a chance to help others BEFORE we give thanks for what we have. Only in helping others can we truly celebrate and appreciate the luxuries, amenities, and good fortune we have. Giving back to those in need before we go out and shop for ourselves and others will help us realize that this season of giving is not just to pile up things under a tree. Instead (or in addition), it should be about giving back to those in need, or to those local organizations who help others in need. The act of doing something to help others will cause us to reflect on our Thanksgiving Day's activities in a much deeper way. Involving our families in a giving back effort the day before Thanksgiving would add much fodder to the conversation around the dinner table. For example, "Guess what we did yesterday with the kids?" will lead to fascinating conversation about how others around that same table help others in need. The holiday mealtime discussions will become much more rich and varied, and help us think about how good we have it to be able to eat when so many others like those The Upper Valley Haven helps may not be so fortunate.
The Haven is "where people find hope and discover possibility." To help The Haven on #GivingWednesday would be a great service to many of our local friends and neighbors. And it would make you/us feel really good. Give it a try and see how it feels. You might just get hooked on helping others in a very good way!
The Upper Valley Haven. A home away from "the home that went away" for many people also provides food and services to help those in dire straits get back on their feet.
Now I'm not suggesting we do away with #GivingTuesday. It's a wonderful idea, and a great notion carried out by people who care to help others focus on giving and giving back to organizations like non-profits and small businesses all over the world. I will say, though, that a giving day that precedes all the commercial hype and hoopla of the season would be an even better way to kick things off as the holidays draw near. To that end, please look for bright yellow signs in and around many Upper Valley towns that reflect those local businesses and shops that support local causes like The Haven. Such signs are now popping up all over, and we'll see many more as we move into December. it's a program called The 19 Days / 1% for The Haven. It's one where small businesses agree to donate 1% of their sales during the first 19 days of December to The Haven to help with its much-needed programs in our local Upper Valley Community.
Signs like this one, and The 19 Days of Norwich, or White River Junction, or other towns are popping up all over. Look for them and please patronize the businesses with showing these signs in their windows to help a very worthy local effort that helps our neighbors in need and gets them back on their feet.
So, for me, #GivingTuesday is really more like #GivingEveryDay. Whenever I shop, I opt first for the locally-made product, be it milk or eggs, bowls, glasses or maple syrup. The more local it is, the better I feel about helping a small business owner who lives close by. Keeping my money in this region makes me feel good, but, more importantly, it helps people I know and creates a virtuos circle of giving and giving back that can happen every day throughout the year.
While we don't really need a #GivingTuesday, if it motivates us to give and give back to organizations that help others, and particularly organizations that help others in our local area, then I'm willing to promote it to my clients and friends. To the extent it forces us to even have a glimmer of a thought of foregoing big box and large online retailers, then I'm hugely in favor of it. And to the extent it makes me sit down and write an article like the above that might get you thinking about how you can give back to others in need, then I'm most certainly a #GivingTuesday fan.
So, let's celebrate #GivingTuesday this year and every year, but let's really focus our thoughts on changing our own behavior to #GivingEveryDay.
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The writer at work in Lyme, NH.
Dave Celone is a freelance writer, poet, visual artist, art gallery curator, and consultant for the education industry. He co-manages Long River Gallery & Gifts in Lyme, NH with his wife Lisa where over 150 artists and artisans show their work. They have a new "pop-up" gallery now open at 49 South Main Street in White River Junction, VT, right next to The Junction Frame Shop. Dave is also principal of Advancement Consulting Services offering higher education institutions and private secondary schools global best practices and unique ways to increase alumni giving and involvement through programs that develop relationships and value holistically. His "virtuous circle" model on developing fundraising programs, and his belief in "treating students like alumnae/i and alumnae/i like students" have gained favor among development industry professionals and higher education leadership on multiple continents. Dave is former director of development at The Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, and former co-executive director of the Dartmouth College Fund. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org