Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seasons of Giving: #GivingTuesday and Beyond

Did you know yesterday was Giving Tuesday? Our 2nd-ever national day of giving in the U.S., part of a growing movement to followup the commercialism of "Black Friday," "Small Business Saturday," and "Cyber Monday." According to one of my friends who works with the social media campaign, preliminary results say that experts are estimating a 90% increase in online giving. Hooray! (Don't ask me how in the world someone calculates that since it involved national charities as well as teeny-tiny local ones) My own local food bank made $5000 yesterday, twice as much as last Giving Tuesday. Maybe I'm so excited about this because this day is an oasis of altruism celebration in the middle of a month that is increasingly about buying luxuries instead of love and caring for those in need.

I'm thrilled that Giving Tuesday is gaining traction yet I'm also concerned about the rest of the year, especially in the context of teaching my little ones to give. Of course, we've been depositing toys in the Toys for Tots been as always, how can we keep it up in all seasons? How does one go about creating a culture of giving in your home all throughout the year and not just at holiday time? Here are three thoughts from me:

1. The Growing Up Giving Guide: Here is a new resource for families wanting to cultivate philanthropy in their children. The new Growing Up Giving Guide is inspired and sponsored by Macy’s Heart of Haiti. One of the most charming aspects about it is the real life anecdotes by parents that day in and day out, are empowering their children to grow up giving. (Okay, full disclosure...I'm proud to be one of the mom's that contributed a story, but it's because I found the idea charming that I did that. No kickbacks, I promise!)
The tips, ideas, and stories and experiences should help to jump-start conversations with your kids and with your friends. Hopefully, the wonderful feeling of giving will become a reality for your family as well!
2. Service Organizations for Children: Today, my youngest is going to a Girl Scout meeting that will be reading the Giving Tree and making their own tree on which to place mittens and hats for kids in need. I have personally worked with Girl Scouts and Camp Fire for many, many years and can say that with the right leadership, a troop experience can have a wonderful positive impact on teaching children to give and to advocate for others. Youth groups for the various religious orgs we've belonged to have also been great places for my girls to find the spirit of giving in the "off-seasons"
3. YOU! (yes, you!): How else can I say this? YOU - a parent, an aunt, a grandparent, a troop leader, a teacher, a human in a child's life - are a role model in real time. You don't have to wait for a campaign started by anyone else. Simple acts like dropping change in the charity box at the grocery store or bringing food to donate to the food bank in the middle of the week are visible outward things you can do any day of the week. Your daily examples are likely more valuable than the big projects people talk about doing once a year.

Good luck to everyone in whatever sort of giving you do whenever you are doing it. Please tell me what is working for you!