Giving Tuesday: Start a movement

At it's heart Giving Tuesday is a "movement dedicated to giving back." It's "the opening day of the Giving Season."

Rev. Yme Woensdregt

First there was Black Friday. Businesses try to entice us into their stores by promising us great deals. They tell us that it’s called “Black Friday” because this is the time in which retail businesses finally turn a profit for the year.

A little research shows that it’s quite a recent phenomenon. It seems to have started in the 1950s when factory managers called it “Black Friday” because so many employees phoned in sick after the American Thanksgiving blowout on Thursday. The current understanding is a successful attempt at rebranding!

Then in 2005, Cyber Monday was born, gestated by marketing strategists trying to lure people to shop online on the Monday after Black Friday.

Canadian Tire invites us to come in on Red Thursday. There seems to be no end to marketers finding creative ways to draw us into their stores.

What started me thinking about all this was an ad I saw for “GivingTuesday” (without the space). With a little research, I found out that it falls on the day after Cyber Monday—November 29 this year.

As the website puts it, it’s a movement for “giving and volunteering … a day where charities, companies and individuals join together to share commitments, rally for favourite causes, and think about others. We have two days that are good for the economy. Now we have a day that is good for the community too.”

There’s all kinds of information on the website, but at it’s heart it is a “movement dedicated to giving back.” It’s “the opening day of the Giving Season.”

That caught my interest immediately. I believe very deeply that being generous is a deep and profound part of what it means to be human. To be human is to give. That’s not just a theological statement, although that’s certainly where it started for me. That statement is also backed up by increasing numbers of studies which are showing that generous people are happier and lead more fulfilled lives than those who are not generous.

GivingTuesday was started in the USA in 2012, and has spread to other countries. It’s a time to celebrate and encourage activities that support charities and non–profits. Whether it’s making a donation, volunteering time, helping a neighbour or spreading the word, GivingTuesday is a movement for everyone who wants to give something back.

When the movement came to Canada in 2013, pollsters wondered whether it made any difference. They discovered that Canadian online giving increased by anywhere from 91 per cent (CanadaHelps) to 421 per cent (Blackbaud, a provider of nonprofit software and services).

The more I surfed the website, the more excited I got. “Giving is a lifelong commitment, and a giving day is a special celebration, a reminder to all of us to think of others and our communities as well as ourselves … GivingTuesday is more than a moment, it’s a movement.”

The website provides lots of help to people who are looking to increase their happiness by giving. It suggests ways to get involved; it allows us to search for specific charities; it provides links to different organizations; it encourages us to volunteer our time and energy, as well as give our money.

The best thing of all is that anyone can get involved — individuals, families, companies, groups, organizations. Start a movement in your own home.

When the movement started, Bill Gates wrote, “I wish the organizers well as they launch the first GivingTuesday tomorrow. I hope lots of people will use the reminder to do something meaningful, and it becomes part of the rhythm of this holiday season. If the organizers of Giving Tuesday can get more of us thinking about giving —and encourage us to be more generous with our time and resources, they’ll have done a very good thing.”

Yme Woensdregt is Pastor at Christ Church Anglican in Cranbrook