Some of you may be thinking, “We’ve already had Black Friday, Shop Local Saturday, (Sunday we rest) Cyber Monday, and now you’re asking us to label yet another day in this epic kickoff to the holiday season? What is this turning into, the Twelve Days of Thanksgiving?”
We understand. The burnout on days celebrating throwing caution to the wind and *ahem* “investing in the American economy” via big box stores is almost as acute as the fervor around Best Buy at 3am on Black Friday morning.
But hear us out. Giving Tuesday is different.
Giving Tuesday allows us to come together by providing us the opportunity to focus on the needs of others, rather than our own. Studies have shown that while buying or doing things for oneself leads to short term happiness, helping others is what provides a deeper connection with our society. Giving Tuesday is a gentle reminder to give back–to truly embrace the spirit of the holidays. It reminds us that presents bear importance first and foremost because they hold meaning to the giver and the receiver–they forge a connection between people–and this matters more than any tangible gift.
The idea of Giving Tuesday caught on like wildfire when it was first proposed last year. When thought leaders decided to float the idea, they received immediate support. According to the Harvard Business Review, within 70 days of the idea hitting social media, a coalition of nonprofit and corporations came together to define a mission and more than 2,700 organizations joined as partners. It speaks clearly to an increasing exhaustion with materialism–from the “Sharing Economy” revolution to new research that suggests that Generation Y’s primary concern in forming a career is not necessarily monetary wealth but creating meaning.
We do not have to make grand gestures and change the world on a macro scale to create meaning, either. Improving one person’s day or life, or working within your community on civic projects is certainly as valid as giving to major NGOs or flying across the world to volunteer in third world countries. Meaning is ours to create, and today is a day when we can take a step back and reassess our priorities, choosing one (or many) initiative we care about most. Perhaps another day of celebrating divesting ourselves of our life savings seems superfluous, but–as is often the case–a rising tide carries all ships, and we can use the trend of post-Thanksgiving holidays to create an opportunity for everyone to be involved in an initiative that encourages social good.
At Launcht, we support Giving Tuesday. One of our newest partners–Pace University–is launching their site today, with the intent of celebrating Giving Tuesday by bringing together their community of students, staff, faculty, alumni, and benefactors to support projects at the university. They will use crowdfunding and Giving Tuesday to forge deeper connections within their existing network and build upon a culture of giving back. We expect their site could become a paragon of the crowdfunding model for higher education and how it can encourage a broader feeling of community, unrestricted by geography.
The internet is making it easier than ever to give, share, and thereby unite. If you have a favorite charity, project, person, school, investment of choice, use today to give back and become a part of something bigger. With any luck, in its inaugural year, Giving Tuesday will take off with the masses as well as it did with the higher ups in the nonprofit and business sector, and we will see a grassroots, crowd-supported movement help to renew the sense of compassion and camaraderie that is so deeply ingrained in the holidays.
Happy Giving Tuesday.