For many, Black Friday and Cyber Monday have become days of shopping frenzy around Thanksgiving.
But have you heard about Giving Tuesday (givingtuesday.org or #GivingTuesday)? This year it falls on Dec. 2. The website, full of tools, videos and even some webinars, touts that there is a day for “giving thanks, two for getting deals” and now one for giving back. The goal is for a massive outpouring of generosity on a global scale.
Last year, giving on that day jumped 270 percent. Because up to 40 percent of donations come from year-end giving, tools are available on its website and on other fundraising sites such as CauseVox (causevox.com/givingtuesday-campaign-planning) and Network for Good (networkforgood.com).
Sharing a smile or a hug or an expression of kindness can be more meaningful than most gaily wrapped presents. If you get stuck in materialism or distractions from the Christmas message, use these resources to inspire you:
Simplify. This year I discovered the Becoming Minimalist blog (becomingminimalist.com), celebrating simplicity and a lack of dependence on “stuff.” Entries include “35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget” and “The Helpful Guide to Simple Christmas Links.”
The latter can also be found on the website “Simple Christmas” (simplechristmas.org), a ministry of First Baptist Church of Jefferson City, Mo.
Hobbify. This made-up word embodies the idea of discovering causes that interest you and getting involved in them — developing a passion that drives those who are deeply devoted to their interests.
I recently came across Meera Lester’s book, “1001 Ways to Do Good.” Her lists refer to online sites, resources or suggestions to benefit you and those around you. Books like hers present a variety of directions to start, such as something broad like physical needs — FeedtheChildren.com for hunger, MedShare.org for medical supplies or the Kansas City-based water.org for drinkable water.
Identify needs. Don’t have a specific organization in mind but want to make a difference? Start with those causes that capture your attention, that evoke a strong reaction (pro or con) or whose generosity once touched your family. Or use a site such as DoSomething.org or VolunteerMatch.org to match your interests with local needs.
After identifying needs, research them. For example, Bread for the World (bread.org) can help you understand the impact of national policies on hunger, while FoodFirst.org researches the global food system. Some of these sites invite you to get involved, while others point you to options.
Identify options. Some 1.44 million nonprofits are registered with the Internal Revenue Service; in 2013, news reports identified 50 of the worst, which had generated almost $1 billion for corporate fundraisers instead of needs.
Make wise choices when investing your resources. Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org) and GuideStar (guidestar.org) are among a handful of charity rating systems you could use. Charity Navigators will also list charities that are similar or viewed by others that can aid you in your research.
The Federal Trade Commission (consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity) has consumer information to assist you in identifying a possible scam.
Edify. The 2014 Cone Communications Digital Activism Study (conecomm.com) found almost 60 percent of Americans believe merely tweeting or posting information to be effective advocacy. Utilize sites such as GreaterGood, tightwadcharities.weebly.com and freecharity10.webs.com for lists of “click to give” options that can enhance your overall acts of generosity.
Localize. Don’t overlook your local church! The staff will know local needs, such as clothes, transportation or serving meals. Missions share the name of Christ while meeting physical needs, both through offerings and personal involvement in short-term and ongoing ministries.
Look for ways to extend your generosity beyond a day or a season to make the spirit of Christmas last all year.
Ken Satterfield is Word & Way’s marketing coordinator.