With high profile donations from philanthropists such as Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey, it can be easy to forget that charitable efforts can come from anyone, particularly at the local level.
That’s the reason for the continued success of Giving Tuesday (often stylized as #givingtuesday), which occurred most recently on November 28th. For those not in the know, it’s a global event that encourages individuals of all nations, backgrounds, and ethnicities to unite with the common goal of giving back.
It comes at a very appropriate time of year. With the emphasis that the holiday season places on giving and receiving gifts, it is important for us to remember that helping the less fortunate is also a big part of it. And, with Black Friday no longer holding the appeal it once did for many Americans.
The event is fueled in part by social media, through the aforementioned hashtag and through pillars of the tech industry leading the charitable charge. The organizations involved—and there are many—partner with their communities to raise awareness and generate support. People have responded well to Giving Tuesday, with $177 million being raised across 98 countries last year. This comes at a time when more Americans are choosing to do good in what many consider troubled times.
All of this together contributes to an environment in which anyone can find and contribute to a cause that they are passionate about. The internet has made donations easier than ever, with only the click of a button being necessary in many cases. And the effort is bolstered by larger philanthropic efforts—this year, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation partnered with Facebook to match up to $2 million in donations.
Of course, much of the support comes from the local level. Creative approaches are encouraged, such as sponsoring a family’s holiday, coordinating an office- or school-wide pledge drive, or volunteering in addition to donating. Across the nation, various charitable organizations have already praised this year’s accomplishments.
Though Giving Tuesday may be over, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t still opportunities to help out your community. As always, you’ll want to ensure that your donation makes the impact that you intend. The great part about this modern age of technology is that anybody looking to give is able to do the research necessary to make an informed decision. Charity Navigator is a great tool for discovering the ideal organizations to give back to, and there’s a charity for every cause you can think of. Even after the event has ended, the Giving Tuesday website is a great way to look local and find places to get involved in your community.
And, perhaps most importantly, strive to embody the spirit of Giving Tuesday in every aspect of your life. Be polite. Beyond that, be kind. The fact that such an event exists is encouraging for the myriad of organizations that have made it their mission to make the world a better place.
It may sound cliche, but change always starts with the individual.