We are in the thick of “Giving Season,” that time of year that kicks off with GivingTuesday and continues through the holidays, when we are bombarded with requests to give back, during a time of otherwise seemingly limitless consumerism. Giving back is certainly a nice way to end the year, to be thankful for what we have and share it with others. But the fact is that today, we are truly living in a 365-day-a-year, 24-hour-a-day giving season. Not all that long ago, there were no Facebook donation buttons or Go Fund Me pages, and email blasts asking for donations were not nearly as constant as they seem today. But today, between requests to respond to current events and natural disasters, and the increase in digital giving platforms that citizens have fully embraced, it’s no wonder 2018 was the biggest philanthropic year of all time with more than $400 million in total charitable donations worldwide. People are giving more, and giving more often.
Perhaps you’ve already donated to a number of causes this year and are feeling some “giving fatigue.” If that’s the case, make this the year you give back in different ways. Giving doesn’t always have to mean writing a check. Consider how corporate giving programs have expanded beyond annual donations to include volunteerism, activism, and even behavioral changes to support causes like “walk to work” days. In fact, many giving programs have evolved into goodness programs which encompass a much broader range of altruistic activities, beyond just donating money (which is still a great way to give, but not the only way).
Here are some ways to consider giving this season with positivity and intention:
- Make New Friends, But Keep the Old Ones – We all have causes we are passionate about, but sometimes we become so committed to certain groups or causes that we overlook learning about new ones. Use Giving Season to invest in either learning about a cause that’s dear and near to a friend or family member, or to educate friends through a personal email about a cause that you’d like to promote. You don’t need to ask them to give, although you certainly can, but just use the opportunity to raise awareness about a cause that you believe could use more attention.
- Love your Mother; Mother Earth, That Is… — The reports are endless. We’re not being kind to our environment. Making small changes to our daily behaviors is a great way to drive collective impact in all kinds of areas. The environment and sustainability is a great example. Use Giving Season to stretch yourself and change one behavior that even for just a day that could make a difference to our environment. Walk to work, take a shorter shower, or carry your own bags to the store. PayPal recently used a gamification technology to increase employee participation in environmental sustainability initiatives and it worked! In just three weeks, they saved 1,000 pounds of waste, 1,000 gallons of water and 11,000 pounds of carbon. Take it a step further and encourage your friends to do the same.
- Raise Your Voice — Giving back can also mean taking a stand on an issue that matters to you and supporting causes that need your voice. Levi Strauss Company provides employees with 5 hours of paid volunteer time a month so they can support the causes they care about and it recently expanded that definition to include political activism. See if your employer does the same.
- Connect with Your Local Community — Instead of, or in addition to, donating to a local cause that you support, find out what items are needed in your community, whether it’s clothing, food, books or furniture. Use Giving Season to take the time to find out what these community organizations really need and plan to spend time collecting and distributing those items.
- Put that Track on Repeat — While we all know that homeless shelters, for instance, are flooded with volunteers on Thanksgiving, remember to give the rest of the year. Use Giving Season to make a commitment to recurring giving — whether its a volunteer slot once a month or a recurring financial donation.
There are always new and creative ways to give back. Make sure this year’s giving season is more than an occasion to assuage holiday shopping guilt with a once-a-year charitable donation. Use it as a springboard to make giving and goodness a state of being that lasts all year round.