“Gray” Thursday, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday — and Giving Tuesday? For the second year in a row, nonprofits, businesses, and individuals are coming together to create a national day of giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.
Why a national day of giving? Last year, New York’s 92nd Street Y, with the support of the United Nations Foundation, catalyzed the idea of adding a national day of giving to kick off the holiday giving season. The goal was to drive donations of time, money, or services to charities with the same enthusiasm that shoppers have on the shopping days surrounding Thanksgiving.
Did it work? Well, yes! More than 2,500 nonprofits across the U.S. registered to be #GivingTuesday partners, bringing in more than $10 million in online donations. This is a full 53 percent higher than the amount of donations processed on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year. Additionally, countless nonprofits hosted volunteer days in which individuals gave their time and effort to support the cause of their local organizations.
This year, Sojourners is joining more than 7,500 other nonprofits to participate in #GivingTuesday. For more than 42 years, we have been working for the common good of every woman, child, and man in our midst. We strive to embody Christ’s love and justice through our work for common sense immigration reform, our fight against poverty, our advocacy for peace, our care for creation, and the countless other ways Christ calls us to build God’s kingdom.
I think the common good is a concept that is central to the mission of #GivingTuesday. One of the mottos for the day is “give back.” By “giving back” with our time, talents, and resources, we work to build a better world that encourages the flourishing of all.
“#GivingTuesday is a counter narrative to Black Friday and Cyber Monday because it reminds us that the spirit of the holiday giving season should be about community and not just consumerism,” said Kathy Calvin, CEO of the UN Foundation. “The most meaningful gift we can give our children, loved ones, friends, and neighbors is the commitment to work together to help build a better world.”
#GivingTuesday also coincides with the beginning of the liturgical season of Advent, in which we await the coming of the Messiah. In the book of Matthew, we are told of John the Baptist, who declared, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Advent is a time for us to prepare our hearts and minds for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
But how do we do this? In this season so often characterized by spending and consumerism, I think it can include evaluating our spending habits and working to invest our time and resources in people, organizations, and missions that work to “prepare the way of the Lord.” Adopt a grandparent at a local nursing or assisted living home and build a relationship with someone who is lonely. Give of your financial resources to an organization with a mission that excites and motivates you. Spend more intentional time with your family, friends, and loved ones.
#GivingTuesday is an organized way to begin this preparation. In whatever way you can — be it your time, talents, or resources — please give on this day as a way of working to straighten paths, raise valleys, level mountains, and prepare for the coming of the one for whom we wait.
If you wish to make a donation to Sojourners in honor of #GivingTuesday, please click here.
Katie Chatelaine-Samsen is the director of individual giving at Sojourners.