Instead of Gifts, Why Not Participate in Giving Tuesday This Season?

We’ve all heard of Christmas, Chanukah, Black Friday, and even Cyber Monday, but did you know that there’s a new day dedicated to the holiday spirit in which you can take part? It’s called Giving Tuesday, and if its organizers have their way, it will soon be as ingrained into or collective perception of the holidays as Santa Claus, the Menorah, and sitting outside in the freezing cold for four hours in a line of people waiting for Best Buy to open.

GrubStreet - Instead of Gifts Pic 1Giving Tuesday gives regular people the ability to do extraordinary charity.

Give an Even Better Gift

In their purest form, the holidays are about giving – and the people behind Giving Tuesday want this new holiday to epitomize that spirit. Consider taking some of the money you were going to spend on material gifts, and use it to give your loved ones something even better – the knowledge that they have given instead of received, and the feeling that only comes by helping people through charity with no material benefit to yourself.

What Is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday is a campaign timed to coincide with the traditional holiday season. Set for December 3, it aims to create and standardize a national day of giving by bringing together people, companies, and civic groups in an effort to support charitable and non-profit groups.

Black Friday for Giving

Just as the day after Thanksgiving is known for retailers collectively offering bargains and deals to create a super-shopping day, Giving Tuesday wants to combine not the collective power of retailers, but of charitable organizations who band together to create a super-giving day.

How it All Started

Without New York’s 92nd Street Y, there would be no Giving Tuesday. The organization is backed by 139 years of community management experience, which it brought to the project when it became the home of Giving Tuesday. Soon after, the United Nations Foundation came on as a partner, and with them came their name, clout, and communications expertise. Soon after, a wide array of “influencers” joined the project – each bringing with them their own unique talents, contacts, experiences, and perspectives. An impressive array of powerful corporations and non-profits signed on as founding partners, which lent credibility and helped publicize the initiative. In the meantime, numerous other individuals and organizations joined forces to make the dream of Giving Tuesday a reality.

Get Involved

Giving Tuesday is not just about December 3 – it’s about using that day as a springboard to launch the giving season. In order to get involved, all you have to do is get your family, your group, your civic organization, your local government, your business – anything, really – to do anything that is charitable and helps people in need, from a canned food drive at a school to volunteering at a food shelter. Be creative – and be sure to publicize your efforts on social media using #GivingTuesday. Charity is contagious, so let the world know about your efforts.

 

Become a Social Media Ambassador

The success of Giving Tuesday is driven by publicity. Other than giving, getting the word out is the most important thing you can do to help the cause. If you’re tech savvy and a whiz with social media, you can give the movement the best gift of all – publicity. Connect with like-minded givers online to create an unstoppable Internet community of caring, charitable people. Become a social media ambassador here.

Become a Partner

In order to become an actual partner, you must be part of a registered 501©3 non-profit organization with a specific initiative, or a for-profit group – such as a school, business, or religious entity – that is leading an effort to help a non-profit group.

GrubStreet - Instead of Gifts Pic 2
By pairing ordinary people with established non-profits, Giving Tuesday can give charitable people the ability to do real good for humanity.

This year, there’s a whole new way to enjoy the holidays – and a whole new group of people with whom to embrace the holiday spirit. Splurging on gifts your loved ones want but probably don’t need means your heart is in the right place – you’re a giver! But the fact is, your money, time, and energies could contribute to something far more fulfilling than toys or gadgets or clothes or electronics. The true holiday spirit – that of helping people in need – is embodied by the Giving Tuesday movement, which was designed to kick off a season of charity, selflessness, and empowerment through good deeds.

Remind your friends, family, and business what the holidays are all about, and give them the best gift they could ever receive – the feeling of giving to someone who desperately needs your help.

Photo credits: Flickr user Direct Relief

Andrew Lisa is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles. He writes about charity, social movements and protecting yourself online for companies such as MediaShower.com.

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