The holiday season is in full swing. There's already been Black Friday and Cyber-Monday shopping. And now there’s a day to think about giving back: #GivingTuesday.
This year, on Dec. 1, we hope you will find a way to participate in #GivingTuesday, which New York’s 92nd Street Y launched in 2012 to emphasize giving at the start of the holiday season. It’s a chance to remind ourselves that everyone has something – whether time, expertise, vocal support or monetary donations – to give.
#GivingTuesday invites you to think of yourself as a philanthropist, even if you’re not a millionaire, even if you’re struggling to make ends meet. (The word philanthropist actually comes from the Greek words for “loving” and “people.” At its most basic, it’s about kindness and what we do for others.)
We know that generosity is alive and well, and that our inclination to give back crosses borders, politics and cultures, because the response to #GivingTuesday has been an outpouring of generosity, creativity, caring and collaboration from people around the country and around the world.
#GivingTuesday invites you to think of yourself as a philanthropist, even if you’re not a millionaire, even if you’re struggling to make ends meet.
This year, national and regional #GivingTuesday campaigns are running in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Latin America, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain and the United Kingdom.
The message of #GivingTuesday is that everyone has something to give. In honor of the movement’s fourth year, we want to share four ideas for how to be generous and give back — without spending a penny.
1. Volunteer at a local shelter. On the very first #GivingTuesday, there was a contracting company in Philadelphia that volunteered its staff to clean windows at a local homeless shelter. One of the volunteer workers said he had never been asked to be part of the “giving chain,” and he wouldn’t have to be asked again. He would be returning to help on his own next time. So if you’ve never been asked, we are asking now: Get together with friends or colleagues and volunteer your time (and elbow grease!) with a local shelter or food bank. (And if you can’t actually volunteer on #GivingTuesday, make a public pledge to do it when you can.)
2. Be neighborly. Sometimes the opportunity for generosity is right next door. Or down the street. Ask an elderly neighbor if she needs a ride to the grocery store, or if she’d like you to pick something up for her when you’re there. Rake the lawn of the man across the way who recently had surgery. Drop off a casserole for the family with a newborn. It will actually make YOU feel better.
3. Give at the office. If you know a co-worker is having a rough time, ask her to take a walk around the block with you at lunchtime; a little fresh air, some pleasant conversation and maybe some window shopping will give her a chance to recharge. Bring in some of the extra apples you picked over the weekend or a bunch of flowers you plucked from your garden — a healthy treat will brighten up the whole office.
4. Spread the word. If there’s a cause you believe in, #GivingTuesday is a great time to spread the word. Post a story or photo on Facebook that educates people and encourages others to get involved.
If you have a personal story about supporting a nonprofit, enter the #MyGivingStory contest at GivingTuesday.org/mygivingstory.
There are so many ways to give — and they don’t have to involve dipping into your piggybank. Be creative; any kind gesture can make someone’s day — or week. And share your story with us at #GivingTuesday; you’ll be part of a global movement that’s helping to make the world a better place for everyone.
Asha Curran is the Director of Innovation and Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The 92nd Street Y founded #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that will take place this year on Dec. 1. The Y is committed to highlighting the work of organizations and people around the world who are dedicated to giving back and doing good this #GivingTuesday.