Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday; how many days after Thanksgiving do people need to start their holiday shopping? As an alternative for people looking to make a difference there is now Giving Tuesday, a day established for individuals to give back to their communities and to the world. As a global effort, Giving Tuesday is honored on December 2 and is designed for individuals, businesses, charities, families, students, and communities all around the world to celebrate generosity and to give to others.

Giving Tuesday was established in 2012 as a way to channel the generous spirit present in global holiday celebrations. The idea quickly caught on and was backed by the United Nations Foundation and multiple philanthropic organizations in the U.S. and around the world. The website Mashable announced Giving Tuesday that year and it was met with great participation. Businesses, international communities, and individuals appeared in great numbers to share their generosity and the spirit of the season with others around the globe.

In a culture that is so steeped in consumerism, especially surrounding the gift giving holidays, Giving Tuesday is a breath of fresh air that encourages people to think beyond their own homes and help others who may be in need.

Start the conversation

Giving Tuesday starts by talking about it. As we approach the holiday season and the month of December, start conversations in your own home about what the day represents and how to give back to others. Thanksgiving Day is all about gratitude but teaching our children to be grateful every day is a valuable tool. People who are grateful for what they have in their lives are genuinely happier.

Here are some ideas as suggested on the Giving Tuesday blog:

  • Ask about the best part of the day and why they are grateful for it: Discussing the events of the day and why they make you feel good starts giving children, and even adults, the ability to focus on the good things and why gratitude makes a difference.
  • Ask about people who helped them and how they thanked them: This begins to expand the bubble of gratitude out to others. When we see how others help us in our lives we are more likely to understand our role in the process and what we can do ourselves.
  • Ask them how they can pay it forward: It is great to thank the person who was helpful but taking it to the next level by spreading that feeling to others who need help is priceless. Ask about acts of kindness, ways they are helpful and courteous, and what else they can do in the future.

Teaching kids about gratitude and giving back starts at home. They model behavior they see in their parents starting at a very young age. If you want to instill values of caring, charity, and compassion start by demonstrating the ways you can give back all year round, not just one day a year.

Find ways to give back

Giving back can be as simple as volunteering with a local organization, donating money to charities that help people in areas of the world with fewer resources, or paying it forward within your community.

Here are a few suggestions for events, organizations, or other ways you can participate on Giving Tuesday:

  • Heifer International: This global organization helps combat poverty and hunger around the world by empowering local community members.
  • American Humane Association: If your passion is for the animals that rely on us to keep them safe and healthy, consider volunteering or donating to the Humane Society.
  • Toys for Tots: Give to less fortunate children who otherwise wouldn’t have presents to open this holiday season. Toys for Tots has collections in most communities so it is easy to contribute.
  • Arbor Day Foundation: If the environment is your primary focus, you can’t go wrong with the Arbor Day Foundation. By planting a tree or donating to the organization you’re helping improve health all around the world.
  • Lupus Foundation of America: This Giving Tuesday partner is helping to solve the mystery of this disease. Follow in the footsteps of the Indiana chapter to make a difference.
  • Habitat for Humanity: This organization has helped build homes for low-income families since 1976. Many people who volunteer to build homes find that the experience changed their lives.
  • Feeding America: Too many children in the United States are going hungry outside of school. Donate to the organization or volunteer at a local food bank. Simply taking food to be distributed can be a big help in your community.
  • Alzheimer’s Foundation of America: It is currently believed that Alzheimer’s disease affects 5.1 million people in the United States. Help fund research or volunteer in your community.
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters of America: Mentoring a child who needs some additional guidance can be rewarding for a lifetime. So many people have succeeded after being a part of this program.

Spread the word and get involved

A big part of the Giving Tuesday movement is its presence on social media. That means you can help spread the word while browsing Facebook. Follow Giving Tuesday on Facebook and Twitter and use the hashtag #givingtuesday to share the message with your followers and friends.

You can join Giving Tuesday as a partner or an individual by following this link on their website. The movement is looking for social media ambassadors to help inform the world about the good that can be done when we take just one day to give back.

Thanksgiving Day is a way for us to show our thanks for the wonderful things we have in our lives. We celebrate with food, football, and family. Now Giving Tuesday allows us to take this thankfulness one step further and demonstrate to the world that we are grateful for the things we have and want to share our time and our resources with others for the feeling we get in return.

How can you celebrate Giving Tuesday with your family, in your community, or around the world this year?

Image by Tim Green via Flickr


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