Giving Tuesday is scheduled to closely follow the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday on the last Thursday of November each year and the immediately following shopping-frenzy days of “Black Friday” and “Cyber Monday.” In strong contrast with these totally consumer-oriented days, Giving Tuesday focuses on the way of giving rather than getting, so it is something that deserves our thought and support.
Naturally, the concept of Giving Tuesday does not suggest that we should only give to those who need help on this one day of the year. But it does focus our minds on needs we can perhaps alleviate at a time of year when support for charities and other ways of helping others typically falls off as many people spend the greater part of what they receive on themselves and their family and friends.
Now in its seventh year and fueled by press coverage, social media, and internet discussion, Giving Tuesday has been tremendously successful in bringing a great deal of funding to many excellent causes around the world. However, so many charities exist that it can be confusing and somewhat overwhelming to try to decide where to give if we do want to participate. That’s how a good online charity rating site can prove tremendously helpful. We recommend CharityNavigator.org. Although there are several similar sites, Charity Navigator clearly shows what percentage of the moneys received by various aid organizations go to their claimed targets – and the site also provides an advisory about charities that are suspect in terms of what they are doing or how much of their funds they are using on administration. A few minutes spent checking charities on a site like this can help guarantee that what we can give gets to where it needs to go.*
But of course, giving doesn’t always have to be about money. Although this day may be a great opportunity to think about how we can give financially, as we are able, there are other ways we can give that are just as valuable. Giving of our time, assistance, concern, and encouragement can be just as valuable as giving money in many circumstances – and even better in some. The end of the year holiday season is often a particularly hard time for those who are by themselves, single parents, widows, widowers, and others. Ironically, the “season of good will” is often a time of heightened levels of loneliness, depression, and even suicide.
Thinking about Giving Tuesday provides us not only an extra incentive to give of what we ourselves have received, but also an extra opportunity to think about those we may know who could use some extra encouragement or help as we go into the winter season. These are things which should continue to be concerns for us throughout the year, of course, but Giving Tuesday provides a valuable opportunity to begin or to focus on our ongoing efforts in the area of giving.
*See also our article “The Savvy Samaritan” here.