Today is #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving. The movement was started in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y to celebrate generosity and the act of giving in all forms whether it be financial donation, volunteering time and talent, or simply performing acts of kindness. Each year #GivingTuesday has grown, and is now a world wide movement.
COVID’s Impact on Giving
According to a survey conducted by the Charities Aid Foundation of America, nearly 70% of organizations surveyed report a decline in contributions as a result of the pandemic. Many charities who serve our most vulnerable have had to cancel their in-person fundraising events. Still, there are plenty of opportunities to give this season. But like many things in 2020, giving is being done from a distance.
Get Creative with Giving
Several charitable organizations are getting creative in trying to fill the gap with virtual events. Race organizers have replaced in-person events with virtual running and walking challenges. Participants track their miles online and proceeds from the events go to local non-profit organizations. Some of them will mail you a race number, t-shirt and finishers medal for participating, and digital swag for sharing on social media.
How about a virtual gala? Many organizations receive a large percentage of their contributions at annual fundraising galas. This year, in lieu of in-person events they are having virtual auctions. Local restaurants and businesses donate fabulous auction items. Participants can enter bidding wars from the comfort of their couch. If you’re lucky, you may have the winning bid on a gift certificate to Connective Touch! Black tie and diamonds are optional.
Giving When Times Are Tight
Many of us have experienced our own financial hardships. While our spirit of generosity may be overflowing, our wallets may not. Giving the gifts of your time and talent is every bit as valuable as giving financially. Due to the pandemic, soup kitchens can’t offer community tables. They need help packaging and distributing To Go style meals for those they serve.
Karma Boxes and Sharing Libraries are popping up in neighborhoods all over the place. Boxes are emptied as soon as they are filled. Volunteers are needed to restock boxes with donated items. With children learning remotely, many don’t have personal libraries at home. As a result, sharing libraries may be their only access to reading materials. That box of books collecting dust in your garage may be a child’s treasure.
Giving doesn’t have to be extraordinary to be significant. And it isn’t limited to a single calendar day. The gift of a smile or a kind word may be exactly what someone needs to lift them out of a moment of sadness. The gift of patience may help someone get through a stressful day. We all have gifts we can share, today and every day.
Health Benefits of Giving
Did you know that giving is good for your physical and mental health? Several studies have shown the act of giving stimulates a part of the brain known as the reward center. This can lead to a release of endorphins. Some potential health benefits of giving include lower blood pressure, increased self-esteem, lower stress levels and increased feelings of joy. With the events of this year, we can all benefit from less stress and more joy.
Slainte! (an Irish toast to health)