Fall and winter holidays render US citizens a stressed-out impecunious bundle of nerves and consumerism. From preparing meals to procuring gifts, and then creating the perfect family vibe on top of it all, all the advertisements and pressure can distract from the real purposes of the holidays — being grateful and celebrating others.
Consumerism has had a field day claiming the days immediately following Thanksgiving, declared by Abraham Lincoln to be commemorated on the fourth Thursday of November annually. Black Friday beckons shoppers to various stores as soon as all the Thanksgiving dishes are done to take advantage of deals and sales on Christmas gifts and personal items. Small Business Saturday, sponsored by American Express, encourages buyers to spend their money and do their holiday shopping at local and independently owned businesses to support their friends and neighbors. In the internet era, Cyber Monday features special deals for online shops and internet retailers to participate in the frenzy.
But move over, consumerist shopping faux-holidays: #GivingTuesday seeks to reclaim the spirit of the holidays by encouraging those who are already in a spending mood to donate to nonprofits who rely heavily on donations to keep their operations afloat. Sponsored by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact, #GivingTuesday began in 2012 and has since taken off on social media throughout both the US and the world.
Nonprofits worldwide vy for donations by running social media and brickspace campaigns using the hashtag #GivingTuesday to rally financial support for their organization. From the American Cancer Association to the Red Cross to smaller arts organizations to countless others, nonprofits for the past five years have factored #GivingTuesday donations into pillars of their capital campaigns and yearly budgets, as the generosity of their supporters has proven invaluable.
In the past, donations have totaled over $175 million towards bettering the world by way of nonprofits, and this year, the organizers are hoping to see the grand total topping $200 million. The twenty-four hour donating marathon capitalizes on the growing demand for a return to community-focused holidays instead of stuff-focused holidays.
The widespread success of the day of giving has drawn the attention of the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates, Microsoft, Google, Skype, Facebook, and others, who have put their own weight behind publicizing the event and donating funds to charities and philanthropies important to them and their employees. Though some have been skeptical and queasy about piggybacking off a consumerist string of shopping days to put a bandaid on poverty, the nonprofits continue to thrive with help from average citizens donating to the cause and using their social media platforms to give visibility to the organizations who need it the most.