Giving Tuesday is a global movement that encourages people to intentionally take a day to do something good for others in their community. Created in 2012, by New York City’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation, the initiative soon grew in popularity to become its own foundation with a reach that includes countless collaborations with organizations around the world.
It’s a simple premise: Every year on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving people around the world get together to donate their time, money, or other resources to help those in need. The idea is that everyone has something to give, even if money is tight; and everything from acts of kindness like helping out your neighbors to donating money to organizations that you believe in, can make a positive difference in someone’s life and in the world. These little acts of kindness serve as the building blocks for creating a culture of generosity and care that will hopefully spread as quickly as the initiative itself.
The results of Giving Tuesday have been astounding and the project’s momentum keeps growing. In fact, Giving Tuesday has generated millions of dollars in donations, and resulted in countless volunteer hours. The ideas behind Giving Tuesday have spread to more than 70 countries around the world in the eight years that it’s been in existence and resulted in collaborations with nonprofit organizations, schools, and community groups. The connections made during this time have also served to strengthen community ties and inspire a lingering sense of generosity in those who participate and in those who have benefited from this outpouring of help in the past.
The pandemic has had an even greater effect on Giving Tuesday: in May of this year, the organization created a special campaign called #GivingTuesdayNow that encouraged people to donate ahead of schedule to help out those most affected by the coronavirus. This initiative resulted in an unprecedented global day of solidarity. It was especially successful in part because the initiative’s goal of creating a more kind and connected world resonated particularly well during a time where so many were feeling isolated and powerless in the face of a global pandemic.
Recently, more conversations around how businesses can get involved in the important work of building a more generous and connected world have begun to pop up. On the consumer end, value-driven shopping has long been a way that consumers can use their dollars towards a good cause, and this trend continues to redefine the relationship between businesses and their larger communities. But how can the businesses themselves get more involved? One suggestion is that all businesses, from small locally owned places to larger international corporations, do their part to become more directly involved in the communities that they serve and, where they can, become sources of positive change in the world at large.
Small businesses in communities of color are often on the cutting edge of this trend. Small business owners of color often intentionally open their doors in the communities where they live and make a point to hire employees from that community as well. Often these businesses also have a strong sense of the importance of giving back and often partner with local community organizations or groups in order to better the community at large. Thus communities of color, along with other marginalized groups such as women and LGBTQ communities, benefit from a more diverse economy not just as business owners, but also via the indirect impact that minority-owned businesses can have in the community overall.
Unfortunately, the coronavirus epidemic has taken a heavy toll in these communities in particular. Small businesses, especially those owned and operated by people of color, are some of the hardest hit by the virus both economically and personally, as many employees and community members fall ill or find themselves suddenly caring for sick relatives. COVID-19 has highlighted the now-critical need to help and support each other in these trying times—exactly the message that #GivingTuesday has been championing since its inception.
There are many ways that both individuals and businesses can get involved in #GivingTuesday and do their part to help out the community as we get the pandemic under control. Even if funds are low—as they are for many people now—activities like volunteering, letter writing, and helping to organize local events, particularly virtual ones, are all ways that we can give back and support those most in need in our communities.
As we continue to struggle with the fallout, both economic and social, from the ongoing pandemic, it is even more important to pull together and do what we can for each other. By supporting small local businesses, particularly those hardest hit, we can begin to rethread and revive our local communities and build a more generous culture for future generations.
Lynn Brown is a Black journalist and educator who specializes in creating education, culture and history content for media outlets, nonprofits, and small businesses. Visit her online at literarylynn.com.