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!

30 Days of Thanks Day 24 – Chris

This marks the 50th post on my blog (yeah me!) and it also marks the day I would like to give thanks to my good friend Chris. I met Chris on the first day of new student orientation because she lived in the room across the hall from mine in Lima Hall, the freshman dorm at The College of Saint Rose.

After a long day of moving in, activities on the lawn and a campus barbecue, I was ready to relax. I returned to my room, kicked off my shoes, turned to reach for my journal and tripped on the rug. I crumpled in slow motion, aiming to contort my body so I would land on the bed rather than the hard floor. When you fall frequently, you learn how to maneuver yourself to reduce the likelihood of injury. I didn’t get enough of my body on the bed, but I did manage to prevent injury. However, now I was faced with the challenge of being alone on the floor inside my room. I could wait for my roommate to return – who knew what time she would be back? Or I could try to get the door open and flag someone down for help.

It took me ten minutes of squirming and shuffling but I managed to get to the door, which thankfully had not latched as it closed. I swung it open and there was Chris, who looked like an angel coming out of the room across from me. The only thing I could think to say was the line from the Life Alert commercial, “Do you think you could help me? I’ve fallen and I can’t get up?”

Thankfully, Chris didn’t turn and run the other way. She calmly turned and asked her boyfriend if he could come help. Once I was off the floor, I introduced myself and said something along the lines of, “This wasn’t the first impression I wanted to make!” Unfortunately, it wasn’t the only time in college I ended up on the floor with Chris coming to my aid but it was the only time it happened without alcohol being involved.

Chris and I are opposites in many ways but we managed to survive and thrive as roommates in Riley Hall Room 2 for the next two years. She is neat. I have creative clutter. She organized her side of the closet. I put things on hangers in no particular order and called it a day. She alphabetized her CDs and tapes. I had mine in a container, most of the time. She made her bed every day. I usually managed to throw the covers up over the sheets but not always.

Although we are different, we are also similar in important ways. She understands the value of the perfect song for the moment, and as my roommate tolerated my need for nearly constant music. Chris is an empathetic listener – then and now I rely on her for feedback and advice when I am pondering decisions. She is an advocate for people with disabilities and has shared with me how our friendship opened her eyes to many attitudinal and architectural barriers.

Chris is a creative person and I have saved many of her drawings from birthday cards and envelopes. She designed the logo for new student orientation when I served as orientation group leader our junior year of college. She taught me, the writer and linguist, to better appreciate visual beauty in works of art.

Chris – I’m sorry I fell and surprised you on our first night at St. Rose. I’m glad you were there to serve as my rescuer, and I am grateful you have continued to support me and assist me in navigating life for the past twenty-four years. You always know what to say, and when to say it. I love how time seems to stand still when we get together and I am instantly young again whenever I hear you say, “Hi Dee!” Thank you for being a blessing to my world for more than half of my life.