As Diwali, Thanksgiving, and the end of the year approaches, many of us are consumed with shopping for gifts, preparing holiday meals, among many other tasks. We become so entrenched into making sure everything is just so, that the actual meanings of the holidays pass us by.
Organizations like #GivingTuesday remind us that the holiday season is not just about shopping and over-indulging. #GivingTuesday falls on December 1 every year, after two of the year’s biggest shopping days – Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Created as a day dedicated to celebrate generosity and giving to those in need, #GivingTuesday serves as a reminder to give back to our communities.
With so many charities sending postcards in the mail, emails on a daily basis, and numerous social media requests, being mindful about your charitable giving can be a challenging task. Below are a few things to consider as you explore options and narrow your choices:
- Values: First and foremost, what values and causes are of great importance to you and your family? Is there one particular cause about which you are truly passionate? Do you see a need in your community that needs support?
- Mission and goals: Look carefully at an organization’s mission and goals? Are the mission and goals clear? Does the organization share the ways in which they fulfill
- Data: Check the organization’s annual report to see how their financials reflect their projects as well as to get a sense of the leadership and organizational transparency (see “Vetting Charities” below for resources). That said, don’t rely solely on the numbers or the overhead ratio! Also look at the organization’s website and read any available evaluation reports to get a clear picture and a complete understanding of their projects and administration.
- Follow-up: Once you’ve narrowed your list and made your donations, be sure to look into how the organization is doing three, six, twelve months down the road.
Beyond making a monetary donation, consider offering an organization your time and expertise. Many new and smaller nonprofits can truly benefit from capacity building that comes from leaders in the community. Some nonprofits also rely on volunteers to implement programs, so consider connecting with an organization on a level beyond simply writing a check.
These are a few sites to help you navigate the efficacy of nonprofit organizations. These sites are a good place to begin your research as each provides a description of the organization and its mission as well as annual reports and performance ratings. Don’t rely on just the reports; be sure to visit the organization’s website and social media outlets to get well-rounded insight into their work and mission.
Resources for Kids/Families
It’s never too early to begin instilling children with an understanding of generosity and giving. Begin by showing them with your own behavior as well as through examples from their every day lives (in their classrooms, communities, etc.). #GivingTuesday provides some great tools for teachers and parents alike, including an exploration of the reasons why we give. Visit their TOOLS section for more information.
Children of every age can learn firsthand how their generosity impacts not only others, but also their own attitudes and feelings. These books offer a starting point for discussions and examples of ways to share:
Boxes for Katje by Candace Fleming
A Kid’s Guide to Giving by Freddi Zeiler
One Hen by Katie Smith Milway
When Stories Fell Like Shooting Stars by Valiska Gregory
Mama, I’ll Give You the World by Roni Schotter
The Giving Book by Ellen Sabin
The Giving Tree by Shel Silerstein
The Spiffiest Giant in Town by Julia Donaldson
This holiday season, start a new tradition of giving back to your community with your family. Giving back strengthens not only our communities, locally and globally, but also our own well-being.