In recent times, however, the holiday season has become one of commercialism seeking to take advantage of that spirit of giving. Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday are all terms for specific days of shopping that have worked their way into our collective consciousness. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of those days, especially if shoppers support small and local businesses, somewhere along the line the meaning of “thanksgiving” has become diluted, to say the least.
A few years ago, a group of nonprofits decided to develop another “day” during the holiday season. But instead of encouraging shoppers to spend more, “Giving Tuesday” was established on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving and designed from the beginning to be a way to create an international day of giving. Wikipedia says Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season. While it remains to be seen whether or not there is staying power in the idea, it’s hard to find fault with a day designed to encourage those who have to help out those who have less.
According to WholeWhale.com, Giving Tuesday is the nonprofit sector’s attempt to build an online herd mentality in the same way that online retailers built up Cyber Monday. This past year, Cyber Monday revenue grew 16%, topping $3 billion in sales. In 2015, Giving Tuesday grew by 145% to a total of $116.7 million in donations. This year Whole Whale analysts predict Giving Tuesday will raise over $250 million.
Here in the Deerfield Valley there is a strong history of community giving. Much of that is done on a small scale, nowhere near the millions national nonprofits hope to raise on Giving Tuesday. But that doesn’t mean that local groups shouldn’t also benefit from the day.
One way local nonprofits can benefit is to join Giving Tuesday. They can list their organization on GivingTuesday.org/join. Once that is done, tell the world about it. The internet is a great way to fundraise, even for local groups. Trying to build a new unselfish social habit means it will take more nonprofit participation to compete with the existing holiday corporate messaging. The more the merrier, even if the message is just targeted for our local corner of the world. By the way, on GivingTuesday.org there are plenty of Vermont nonprofits listed, but none from the Deerfield Valley.
As for anyone who would like to help local nonprofits, there are a number of ways to do so. One is to do a simple internet search for locally-based nonprofits. We used the search term “Deerfield Valley VT nonprofits” and had scores of groups appear. From there, it’s a simple click to open a website and have all of the donation and contact information at a donor’s fingertips.
For those who eschew the internet, or prefer a more personal approach, there are plenty of ways to plug into a local nonprofit organization. A church is a good place to start. Most keep a long list of local groups that help those in need. Local town government offices are another good source of information. Town clerks generally know what groups are active in a community, who provides assistance, and how to contact them. Schools would be the third way to find local nonprofits, as again the staff there will have good knowledge of who is helping people and families in need in the community.
No one can predict whether or not Giving Tuesday will grab a place in popular culture similar to Black Friday or Cyber Monday, but even if it doesn’t, the sentiment of giving is still one that is strong and should be considered.
Also, people need to remember there are plenty of giving opportunities right here in the Deerfield Valley. Whether supporting local nonprofits, or even local small businesses, the concept behind Giving Tuesday is sound. It is also a concept that can be supported any time of the year, not just when Thanksgiving rolls around.