The mad rush to buy holiday gifts has begun. We have been getting bombarded with emails and commercials about Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Stop. Take a mindful deep breath. There is more to the holiday season than shopping, spending, and stressing. Why not gather your family together for some holiday volunteer opportunities?
What Is Giving Tuesday?
This special day is focused on giving. Giving Tuesday is a global day for sending charitable donations to organizations of your choice. This social media campaign was initiated in 2012 by the cultural center 92nd Street Y in New York City in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. Tens of thousands of nonprofits, businesses, civic organizations, and individuals from nearly 100 countries come together to make real change happen in their communities and around the world.
Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. Since it began, Giving Tuesday has become a movement that celebrates and supports giving and philanthropy.
It is so wonderful that this day has been created to highlight the importance of charitable donations for organizations supporting those in need. Giving Tuesday is responsible for increasing online donations by 470 percent!
How To Celebrate With Family Volunteer Opportunities
As parents, we can use this opportunity to teach our children about the importance of giving and helping others. Here are some ways your family can celebrate Giving Tuesday:
- Explain what it means to be compassionate. Teach your children about compassion by reading Wee Walk In Someone Else’s Shoes.
- Discuss how they can help. Find a few minutes during the ride home from school or at dinner to ask your children who they would like to help. Provide some options like babies, animals, people without homes, children who do not have families, students who need books, or the elderly. Brainstorm some places where you can send a donation. Check out these resources for charity ideas. Let them send the actual donation online so that they can experience the act of giving firsthand.
- Teach your children how to balance giving with receiving. Review these lessons with your children, especially as your prepare for the holiday season.
- Talk about the importance of charitable giving. Enjoy reading Fred Rogers’ The Giving Box together. Then create or purchase your own giving box for each child. Ask them to set goals about how much they would like to give next year and who they want to help. Check in weekly or monthly throughout the year to see how close they are to reaching their goal.
- Make your own giving box. Here are some great ideas for making your own charitable collection box that your kids will love.
- Commit to volunteer work throughout the year. This is a wonderful opportunity to also decide where your family can volunteer together. Learn how to choose the best volunteer activities for your family.
Featured Charities 2017
This is the third year that I have published a post about Giving Tuesday. This year I am adding a new feature to highlight some of my favorite charities that I hope you will consider supporting. This year I am focusing on organizations who are working tirelessly to protect our natural environment.
- Citizens’ Climate Lobby: Citizens’ Climate Lobby is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Their goal is to create the political will for climate solutions by enabling individual breakthroughs in the exercise of personal and political power.
- Earthjustice: Earthjustice is the nation’s premier environmental law organization. They believe that everyone has the right to a healthy environment. Since their founding more than four decades ago, they have defended that right by using the power of the law to fight for the earth and its inhabitants.
- Environmental Defense Fund: Environmental Defense Fund’s mission is to preserve the natural systems on which all life depends. Guided by science and economics, they find practical and lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems.
- Environmental Voter Project: The Environmental Voter Project aims to significantly increase voter demand for progressive environmental policy by identifying inactive environmentalists and then turning them into consistent activists and voters.
- Natural Resources Defense Council: NRDC works to safeguard the earth—its people, its plants and animals, and the natural systems on which all life depends.
- Sierra Club: Founded by legendary conservationist John Muir in 1892, the Sierra Club is now the nation’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization–with three million members and supporters. Their successes range from protecting millions of acres of wilderness to helping pass the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act.
- Union of Concerned Scientists: The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet’s most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, they combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.
- World Wildlife Fund: Our mission is to conserve nature and reduce the most pressing threats to the diversity of life on Earth. The world’s leading conservation organization, WWF works in 100 countries and is supported by more than one million members in the United States and close to five million globally. WWF’s unique way of working combines global reach with a foundation in science, involves action at every level from local to global, and ensures the delivery of innovative solutions that meet the needs of both people and nature.
How will you celebrate Giving Tuesday as a family?