Last Friday, as the post-Thanksgiving food coma began to wear off, countless people around the country rose before the sun itself, laced up their most comfortable shoes, and layered on their warmest jackets in preparation for the now-steadfast American tradition known as Black Friday. For many, Black Friday and all its associated rituals have become as important as Thanksgiving itself.
For those of us in need of a soul cleansing, altruistic antidote to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, look no further than #GivingTuesday – a global day of giving driven by the power of social media and community collaboration.
Started in 2012 by the UN Foundation and 92nd Street Y, #GivingTuesday is an annual opportunity for individuals, families, and organizations to give back together, an experience which has come to carry a lot of meaning for those who choose to participate. As #GivingTuesday enters its fourth year, expectations have never been higher. In 2014, people in 68 countries raised over $45 million, and those numbers are expected to rise significantly this year.
As unwavering advocates of the field of philanthropy and its power to change society for the better, we at The Philanthropic Initiative can think of few better ways to kick off the holiday season than a day dedicated to giving around the world. The primary focus is on the fact that we as a community are giving back together—an act that has lasting benefits that go far beyond simply writing a check.
With a strong social media presence, the concept is particularly well-suited towards individuals and organizations looking to make a difference in small yet still strategic and meaningful ways. The accessibility of #GivingTuesday is key, especially for people who don’t identify as traditional “philanthropists”. We’re especially inspired by the movement’s ability to reach a broader—and younger—audience. It is critically important to involve the next generation in the practice of giving, whether through family philanthropy, giving networks, volunteerism, or individual giving. #GivingTuesday is becoming a valuable ally in this effort.
We encourage you to participate in #GivingTuesday today. And even more importantly, we encourage you to use the day as an excuse to take a step back from the rush of the holiday season and consider what you’re giving—in time, talents, and treasure—this season and in the year ahead.