Giving Tuesday follows Cyber Monday, which is such a 1990s name, by the way. Who uses the word “cyber” anymore to describe Internet transactions?
Anyway, Giving Tuesday is the only designated day of the three (the third being Black Friday) which is truly in the spirit of the season. Last year, Black Friday sales were down, but Giving Tuesday had a banner. So some people get it. I am glad it is a “thing”, even if it is only a few years old. The story behind Giving Tuesday is here, but basically, Giving Tuesday was established in response to the commercialization and consumerism prevalent during the holiday season.
Unfortunately, a few businesses – big and small – sink to a pathetic level by using the day to promote themselves and their brand. I’m talking about businesses like Evereve, a women’s fashion retailer — starting on December 2 and extending through the end of the month, $10 from every pair of jeans sold in stores or online will go toward a loan for a female entrepreneur overseas to start her own business, provide for her family and transform her community. The cause is just, but why is Evereve’s so-called altruism dependent on people buying their product? That’s consumerism — the very thing Giving Tuesday was meant to counteract.
Compare Evereve to, say, The Avon Foundation For Women. That group has pledged to raise money to benefit domestic violence organizations this holiday season in partnership with the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Consumers can donate to The National Domestic Violence Hotline and the Avon Foundation will match every donation made, up to $500,000. No consumer sales involved. In fact, if you click through on the Avon Foundation link above, you wouldn’t even see an Avon product anywhere.
Anyway, if your email inbox and Twitter feed is like mine, you are being inundated by actual charities and nonprofits for help. It would be nice to help them all. Whatever you choose — if it is a charity — you might want to run it by the Charity Navigator — not only to see if it is bonafide, but to see how its donations are used. In fact, the Charity Navigator is a good place to go if you WANT to donate, but don’t know where to donate to. In fact, you can donate to your favorite charities — like a struggling theater company — without leaving Charity Navigator!
Last year, I made a pitch for The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, a leading peer-directed national organization focusing on depression and bipolar disorder:
DBSA’s peer-based, wellness-oriented, and empowering services and resources are available when people need them, where they need them, and how they need to receive them-online 24/7, in local support groups, in audio and video casts, or in printed materials distributed by DBSA, our chapters, and mental health care facilities across America.
Through more than 700 support groups and nearly 300 chapters, DBSA reaches millions of people each year with in-person and online peer support; current, readily understandable information about depression and bipolar disorder; and empowering tools focused on an integrated approach to wellness.
And again, for all the same reasons, I invite you to donate to them again. I have been involved with them locally as a group facilitator, and it is a great organization. Your donation will be matched dollar-for-dollar today!
Another strong group in the area of mental and emotional wellness is NAMI — The National Association of Mental Illness. I’m a dues-paying member, so I am partial to this. They are bigger than DBSA but have a broader agenda. Most people who know NAMI, if they know NAMI at all, know it through their annual NAMIWalks, walk-a-thons all over the country to raise money and mental health awareness.
To get the facts about the mental health situation in the United States, click the “Read More” button below for a nice infographic.
If you want some more suggestions, again I recommend the aforementioned Charity Navigator… but I also will plug for some very topical charities:
Planned Parenthood — now more than ever (and you can give locally at the link)
Lady Parts Justice (edgier than PP)
ACLU – matching donations today only!
For breast cancer, I would avoid Susan Koman — there are better choices out there.
Locally, I would recommend the Second Harvest Food Bank or the Winston-Salem Rescue Mission, both of which gets consistently high charity ratings. I would hold off on donating to local animal shelters, given the problems in Guilford County and Davidson County. Forsyth County doesn’t seem to be ensnared, possibly because it is affiliated with the National Humane Society, rather than an independent local shelter. In any event, once their acts are cleaned up, perhaps the other animal shelters will need your help.
And yeah, the arts count. Just help out anywhere you can.