I love NPR.
On my way to join Weight Watchers this morning, NPR reminded me that it’s Giving Tuesday. Yes, they have a pledge drive. Yes, I’m a donor.
Instead of hitting the stores, my family and I have what we call Chocolate Friday. We stay in the day after Thanksgiving and make all kinds of chocolate candy. Thus, the reason for Weight Watchers.
After shop-‘til-you drop Black Friday, Shop Small Saturday, and Cyber-Monday, comes the less-known #GivingTuesday. Groups in my area, such as the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, Lakeside Arts Park, set their sights set on community donations that will help them fund the work they do throughout the year.
#GivingTuesday started in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday soon became a phenomenon. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matched over $45-million for charitable organizations around the world through a Facebook outreach. By setting aside a day to focus on charitable contributions, #GivingTuesday hopes people will consider this day as synonymous to giving as the other days are to buying.
December is the time of year when many people step up their charitable giving. The holidays stimulate people to become more introspective, count their blessings, and decide to help those less fortunate. It’s the last month of the year to give tax-deductable donations.
Even after #GivingTuesday, local churches, businesses and municipalities offer ways to help through Giving Trees, Toys for Tots or the iconic Salvation Army Santa. Chances to give are around every corner and on nearly every Not For Profit Facebook page.
Here are a few tips for deciding how to give wisely.
- Follow your passions: Roughly one million charities exist in this country. Don’t settle for an organization that isn’t a match for your beliefs and goals. There are charities that rescue pets, and charities that use pets to rescue people, there are music charities, literacy charities, charities for children, charities for athletes, charities for mothers of twins, and charities for senior citizens. If you have a passion, chances are there is a charity to match.
- Ensure the charity is efficient, ethical and effective: Before you give to any charity this holiday season, be sure to check that the charity meets these three criteria: Financially solid, transparent and accountable with funds, and accomplishes goals that matches your intent. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (http://www.give.org) rates charitable organizations for Standards of Charity Accountability. Each describes its purpose, programs, fund-raising, and governance.
- Watch out for copy-cats. Sometimes disreputable charities use names similar to dependable and sound charities. Make sure you get the charity’s exact name, and then check them out.
- Resist pressure. Don’t fall for telemarketers’ pressure or heart-wrenching appeals.
- Think Local. Many charities exist in your home community. Contact local churches or the Chamber of Commerce to find a charity that serves your community.
- Volunteer. Find a local charity that shares you passion and pitch-in. Sometimes time and resources are more meaningful to a charity than gifts of cash.
- Follow your investment: Once you’ve made a commitment, avoid putting your giving on autopilot. Continue to review the charity’s commitment and responsibility to assure it meets your requirements.
- Get creative. Consider how you might share your passion with an existing charity. For example, let’s say your passion is reading.
If you’re local, you can find out more about the non-profit organizations in the County, visit http://www.volunteercentermchenrycounty.org.
For more about Giving Tuesday, go to https://www.givingtuesday.org.
As for me, I made a decision. As long as I’m living in enough abundance to need Weight Watchers, I will match the cost of my membership with local charities. I’m starting with our church’s Outreach. Outreach supplies gas cards, short-term loan, rides, and connection to the area’s network of support organizations.