What does “Giving Tuesday” mean to you?

If you are anywhere near the Internet today, be it blogs or social media, or other mainstream media outlets, you know it’s “Giving Tuesday.” What is Giving Tuesday? According to the website (because of course there is a website), the day is “a global day of giving.” They go on to say:

It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.

People are posting “UNselfie” photos, spreading the word about giving, and the organizations they support. In just three years, this campaign has brought in more than 10,000 worldwide partners, such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Facebook, Huffington Post and UN Foundation. Is this the new tradition of generosity?

I work for a nonprofit organization and understand the importance of development for organizational sustainability. Since 1997 I have served on many nonprofit boards, often in leadership roles. I love the idea of being generous, of giving back to your community. But seeing all of the posts about Giving Tuesday makes me wonder if people are doing it because they believe in philanthropy and generosity, or if they are doing it because they want to show others they are participating. I would like to believe the former. Does the reason really matter if the end result is a well-deserving organization getting help?

I am not wealthy. I dream of how many nonprofits I could support if I earned more income. However, I believe everyone has the power to make a difference regardless of bank account. So, my $10 or $20 memorial contributions every few months to The College of St. Rose Monsignor Delaney Alumni Scholarship Fund may not be at the level of what some would consider substantial gifts, but they are important to me because I attended college on a scholarship. I volunteer my time because I have limited financial resources. I may not be able to sustain my local Ronald McDonald House with a monetary donation, but I can go make dinner a few times each year with my Rotary Club.

I don’t mention some of my acts of charity because I think they are worthy of acclaim or recognition. I provide them as examples of simple acts you can do if, like me, you find yourself in a situation where personal finances do not permit you to be as financially generous as you would like. I am not seeking recognition when I contribute or volunteer. As the beneficiary of much generosity over the years, I believe it is important to give back when I can, by whatever means I am able. We can all make a difference, and personally I think we should make that difference as often as possible throughout the year, not just on a particular day.

But maybe our desire for recognition, even fleeting social media glances, makes this idea a winner. The Giving Tuesday campaign was designed with social media and Internet connectivity in mind. Snap a photo, encourage others to give, mention your own support – boom! Easy as pie. Everyone knows you did your part because it is all over the web. At work, our own online donation page has a button where you can link your donation to the Giving Tuesday tally.

To those of you who are participating in Giving Tuesday – thank you for making a difference in your community. At work, we recognize and appreciate each and every donation no matter the size or the time of year. I know the organizations you choose to support are as grateful. Just don’t forget about all of those causes and organizations come July when they are planning a summer picnic, or in September when they are organizing a craft fair. Your support may be even more important then, when the general public is not as apt to brag about their generosity.

Did you participate in Giving Tuesday? What causes or organizations are important to you? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

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2 thoughts on “What does “Giving Tuesday” mean to you?

  1. We learned at an early age, growing up with parent role models, what it means to volunteer and donate. I think that’s evident in the organizations we work for and in how we live our lives. I see many in our world trying desperately to make meaning of life and trying to get away from the “self centeredness” of my generation. I agree with your comments and hope Giving Tuesday is a start for those who want to make a difference.

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