Every year, retailers and shoppers anticipate, or dread, the annual shopping frenzy on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Since 2012, however, Giving Tuesday has provided an alternative to the consumerism that Black Friday and Cyber Monday represent.
For retailers, the shopping days after American Thanksgiving are a chance to start off the gift-giving season with vast increases in sales, while for customers, these days are a chance to get deals that might not be available at other times of the year.
In 2012, however, people from the United Nations Foundation and a charitable foundation in New York, the 92nd Street Y, decided to institute an alternative to the days dedicated to consumerism, and Giving Tuesday was born.
The premise behind Giving Tuesday is simple: after the chaos Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the following Tuesday is a time when people are encouraged to spend a day supporting charities and non-profit organizations by donating money or giving their time to help people in need and taking a stand, however small, against a culture of unchecked consumerism.
Giving Tuesday can involve donating money to charities and non-profit organizations, but it can also include serving meals at a local soup kitchen, finding old clothes and appliances to donate to a thrift store, taking supplies to a food bank, or posting information about charities on social media or other venues.
Basically, Giving Tuesday is about giving back to the community. Sometimes, charities and companies will give matching gifts or even double or triple the amount on Giving Tuesday, making any donations that people give on that day especially valuable. In 2013, over 7000 non-profit organizations participated in Giving Tuesday.
Why should people donate their money and time to people in need on Giving Tuesday? Giving to people in need is important at any time of the year, especially in today’s uncertain economy where even the most stable jobs can disappear in an instant, leaving people vulnerable to poverty.
Encouraging a spirit of altruism and cooperation is an important element of Giving Tuesday. Many organizations are now involved in Giving Tuesday, and the movement is growing in the United States while also making its way into Canada and countries including Mexico, Australia, and the United Kingdom.
Spending vast amounts of money often seems to be an inescapable element of December, with all of the family celebrations happening during the last month of the year. With Giving Tuesday, however, December can also be a time for sharing with the world’s needy people and for taking a few steps back from our consumer culture.
How will you celebrate Giving Tuesday next December and throughout the year?