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7 Ways to Give Back on Giving Tuesday

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With the holiday season approaching, it’s easy to get wrapped up in what we’re going to wear to parties, what dishes we’re going to prepare for holiday meals, and what gifts we’re going to buy our loved ones.

But those are just teeny tiny parts of what the holiday season is all about.

The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas encompass three of the biggest shopping holidays of the year: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. But a lot of people will agree that those are just the precursors to the best day of the season of all:

Giving Tuesday.

Want to do something good for your community or for the world this holiday season? Here are some of our favorite ways to give back on Giving Tuesday.

What is Giving Tuesday?

Giving Tuesday takes place on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving once all of those big shopping holidays are behind us. 

It started back in 2012 at the 92nd Street Y in New York City as a way to do something good for the community. In the past nine years, it has become a global generosity movement where people across the world do good things to help people and help to inspire other people to want to give back.

While nonprofit organizations do charitable, generous work all year round, Giving Tuesday is a global day of good-doing that all individuals, organizations, businesses, teams, and families can take part in.

Want to do something positive this year that will help others, improve the lives of people in need, and benefit your community? Here are some of the best ways to partake in Giving Tuesday this year and in the years to come.

Help the Homeless

Woman opening her shop door to help a homeless woman

If your local community has a homeless population (and most do), this is the perfect time of year to roll up your sleeves and pitch in to help vulnerable individuals and families that live on the streets.

Spend the day volunteering at a local homeless shelter or food bank. You can either make meals or serve meals to the homeless or donate your time to washing dishes and helping to clean up.

If you love to cook at home, consider making some hearty meals on your own and delivering them to local homeless people that you see around your neighborhood. Not much of a cook? Put together care packages of toiletries, toothbrushes, and socks. You could also take up a collection of coats, scarves, hats, and gloves and pass them out to people living on the street.

If you have the skills to sew or crochet, stretch Giving Tuesday out into a month-long event. Spend some of your free time throughout the month of November knitting or sewing hats and scarves so that you have a bunch of unique pieces to pass out when the Thanksgiving holiday is over.

Related: 9 Thoughtful Ways To Volunteer [During The Holiday Season]

Help Children

According to the Children’s Defense Fund, nearly 10 million children in the U.S. live in poverty, which means a family of four is living on an annual income of less than $26,172. Nearly half of those children live in extreme poverty, where a family of four lives on an annual income of $13,086 or less.  

For most of us, this is unimaginable.

From making a donation to a children’s charity to organizing a toy drive, there are endless ways that you can make the lives of children better this holiday season.

Volunteer at a local children’s hospital. Prepare care packages or gather toys and gifts for homeless families or children in the foster care system. 

Put together school supply gift bags with notebooks, pencils, and other essentials and pass them out in elementary schools in low-income communities. Donate must-have items such as socks, tee shirts, and pajamas to children in shelters – children grow fast and are always in need of new clothing that fits!  

Feed People

Woman with a mask helping sort food on Giving Tuesday for a food bank

Homeless people aren’t the only ones in need of food. Feeding America reports that, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, food banks serve 55% more people now than they did in 2019 and years prior. By the end of 2021, food banks will have distributed approximately 6.5 BILLION meals this year alone.

Make the holiday season a giving season by volunteering to stock warehouse shelves and distribute meals at local food banks and community pantries. Prefer to drop off goods rather than spend a day doling them out? Gather up canned goods and non-perishables and drop them off at your local food bank on days when they accept donations.

If you work at a bakery, restaurant or grocery store, ask your owner or manager if they want to get involved. You might be able to organize making small weekly contributions to local food pantries by donating items that are nearing their expiration date. If your coworkers and management support your efforts, you may be able to turn Giving Tuesday into a weekly event!  

Online donations are always appreciated. If you can’t donate food products, visit the website of your local food pantry and make a monetary donation online. Even small amounts can make a big difference.

Raise Money

No matter the cause or organization, donating cash to nonprofits in need is one of the easiest ways to give back. But fundraising and encouraging other people to make a donation with you can make an even bigger impact.

If you’re an active individual, sign up for a run or a race where you can maximize your charitable giving efforts by getting sponsors to support you. Start a Facebook fundraiser or launch a social media campaign to raise funds for a particular group, charity, or community effort.

Prefer to be a bit more hands-on? Hold a bake sale or organize a garage sale and donate all of the profits to your favorite local organization.

By investing your time into a particular cause or group in need, you can make a monetary donation without ever having to contribute a penny of your own hard-earned money.

Pay it Forward

Charitable acts don’t have to be big – sometimes it’s the little things that make the biggest difference!

The GivingTuesday movement isn’t just about supporting nonprofits and charities by volunteering your time or donating money. This movement is about doing something good and being kind – and simple acts of kindness don’t have to cost you much at all.  

If you head to a drive-through for coffee or lunch, consider paying for the car behind you in addition to paying for your own meal. This can be contagious and can inspire person after person to keep paying the favor forward!

Heading to your favorite restaurant for lunch or dinner? Tip your wait staff an extra 10% or 20% as a thank you and a way to spread that feeling of goodwill.

Have an elderly neighbor that could use some assistance? Offer to mow a neighbor’s lawn, shovel their sidewalk if there’s snow, or pick up their groceries when you’re heading out.  

Donate Your Skills

Woman and man helping a business on Giving Tuesday

Want to support black-owned businesses or businesses owned by women? Know a local student that’s trying to get their startup off the ground? Looking for a way to help people in their search for a job that can get them out of poverty?

From individuals you know to small businesses you want to support, volunteering your skills is a great way to give back!

If you’re great at writing, graphic design, or marketing, offer to provide a few hours of your services to a local business free of charge. If you’re a professional accountant or CPA, offer free tax advice or guidance to a startup or a local nonprofit that’s getting off the ground. If you work in HR, offer to coach people on how to write a resume or practice for a job interview.

No matter what you do for a living, someone somewhere can benefit from your skills – and you can make a big impact on both businesses and individuals that can benefit from your expertise.

Volunteer Your Time

Giving Tuesday isn’t just a specific day – it’s a movement. But if you want to limit your charitable efforts to that day alone, there are plenty of ways that you can volunteer your time.

Find a community park in need of a clean-up. Sign up to feed pets or clean cages at an animal shelter. Offer to make phone calls for local charities and community organizations trying to raise funds.  

The more time you can donate, the better – but even a four or five hour shift or doing good can make a huge difference.

How Can I Give Back on Giving Tuesday?

There are endless ways to give back, and there’s no need to wait until Giving Tuesday rolls around to do so.

There are always people, cultures, and communities in need, so if you’re feeling inspired to partake in Giving Tuesday, why not show your generosity all year-round?

Remember, simple acts of kindness don’t have to cost a lot of money or take up a lot of your time. A simple gesture is all it takes to spread some love and help the people that need it most.  

Visit givingtuesday.org for more information on issues, causes, and global coalitions that you can join to do something positive on any and every Tuesday throughout the year.

You might also be interested in: 10 Things Money Can’t Buy That Will Make You Happy

7 Ways To Give Back On Giving Tuesday: 

  1. ​​Help the Homeless
  2. Help Children
  3. Feed People
  4. Raise Money
  5. Pay it Forward
  6. Donate Your Skills
  7. Volunteer Your Time

Jessica Heston

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