As November makes the transition into the full-on holiday mode and the number of weeks until Christmas can be counted on one hand, Americans have several big days to look forward to.
It all starts out with the Thanksgiving feast, and as nights grow longer, more of them are filled with holiday parties and get-togethers.
For many people, the holiday shopping season starts out big, with Black Friday and a frenzy of holiday shopping.
Cyber Monday has become a “thing” in recent years as online retailers try to draw shoppers with special deals and the appeal of avoiding parking and other holiday shopping hazards.
Since 2012 another special day has been added to the post-Thanksgiving holiday kick-off: Giving Tuesday.
Reminding Ourselves What’s Really Important
The fact is, even with the economy recovering, many households have a hard time trying to live up to the American image of the holidays as a time to spend a lot of money and make wishes come true for loved ones.
The result is often overextended credit cards and overextended patience. Giving Tuesday is designed to inspire people to pause from the “getting” and spend a day concentrating on giving.
In coming weeks, look for #GivingTuesday on Twitter, and check out the links about how you can participate.
Giving Tuesday: A New Movement
This year, Giving Tuesday is December 3, and it can be a terrific way to remind ourselves and teach our children about the importance of giving to those less fortunate than ourselves.
Last year, in all 50 states, more than 2,500 organizations took part in Giving Tuesday, and more are expected to participate this year.
But the day isn’t just for organizations that serve the needy; it’s for individuals and families too.
Giving Tuesday is an unofficial holiday, and it endorses no particular charity. The goal is simply to promote giving to those in need.
Last year, the inaugural Giving Tuesday made a difference. Compared to the same Tuesday in 2011, online donations increased significantly, both in number and in total dollars collected.
In 2012, more than 50 million people gave of their time or money, and many started spreading the word through social media channels.
Donations may be big or small, depending on your means, and giving of your time to charitable organizations is welcomed too.
Charitable 501(c)3 organizations may register to be part of Giving Tuesday, but of course you can give to organizations that are not registered.
Ways You Can Participate
How can you participate in Giving Tuesday?
There are countless ways, and the way to start is by thinking about what’s important to you.
You and your children could collect pet food and supplies to donate to a local animal shelter, or you could make a cash donation to a local charitable organization or food bank.
You could set up a donation box in the break room at work.
You could have a “Secret Santa” game at your workplace where people donate to participating charities on behalf of each other, encouraging the holiday spirit at work and helping your business engage with the community at large.
This approach also saves everyone from having one more novelty gift to buy and find space for at home or in the office.
Individuals may be reluctant to give to charities, particularly if they are unable to give much. Perhaps they feel as if their small gift doesn’t make a difference.
But the great thing about participating in Giving Tuesday is that it’s a nationwide effort, and everyone’s contributions together can really make a difference to those in need.
If your Black Friday shopping leaves you with tired feet and misgivings about what the holidays represent, Giving Tuesday can be the perfect antidote.
Spread the word with #GivingTuesday on your favorite social media sites. Why not give it a try, and remind yourself and your family how good it can feel to give?
Mary Hiers is a personal finance writer who helps people earn more and spend less.