Last year, in response to creeping commercialization of Thanksgiving as the beginning of Christmas sales, New York's 92nd Street Y started #GivingTuesday.
The day of giving is meant to be a counterbalance to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and is meant to encourage people to support the charities of their choice. #GivingTuesday is a vibrant network of more than 5,000 organizations around the world who hope to create a national day of giving and encourage activities that support non-profit organizations.
Last year, more than $10 million was donated on the first annual #GivingTuesday, which fell on Nov. 27. This year's event is scheduled for Dec. 3.
Beneficiaries of #GivingTuesday need to be registered nonprofits or a for-profit business, school, religious or community group committed to spearheading a project that will benefit at least one registered charity or nonprofit. However, #GivingTuesday does not accept donations. All donations need to be made through the website of an official partner.
But #GivingTuesday is not just about promoting the idea of giving. It's about getting people more involved and engaged in worthy causes in their community. #GivingTuesday offers a number of models that individuals, organizations and companies can use to make that a reality.
In Vermont, partners include United Way of Windham County, the Vermont Foodbank, Children Affected by HIV/AIDS, Heifer International and Pure Water for the World.
"All nonprofits are facing the same problems now," Henry Timms, founder, told The Street. "We have to think about how we can renew traditions and new ways of serving our mission ... When the nature of community is changing so much, how do you scale your values as an organization?"
Timms said #GivingTuesday is meant to be a catalyst to bring people together to serve a common cause -- a unifying force for the good of community and humanity.
"While our big goal is monetary, we believe that a culture of contribution is about much more than dollars," wrote GiveCorps' Jamie McDonald for the Huffington Post. "While this national effort offers a wonderful platform to raise awareness of the importance of giving back to our communities, it's really a means to celebrate what happens every day in a big way. It's truly growing into a local army of givers."
We're happy to say that our little corner of New England has always been chockfull of givers. Whether it's in response to an earthquake in Haiti, a tropical storm in Vermont, a fire in Brattleboro, a child with a life-threatening injury or illness, hunger, the cold ... well, the list goes on and on; people and businesses here are quick to step up and do what they can to take care of the most vulnerable in our communities.
We encourage our readers to continue to give of themselves and their money, but we also encourage them to recognize #GivingTuesday as a way to get more people involved. Also, maybe it's a way of turning down the volume on a season that has been co-opted by crass commercialism and remembering what Thanksgiving, Christmas and the New Year are really all about.
While there will always be those who are convinced it's about giving and getting the biggest, the best and the shiniest of gadgets, we all know in our hearts this time of the year is about giving thanks, recognizing the goodness of humanity, new beginnings and celebrating the birth of a man who preached forgiveness, humility and charity.
#GivingTuesday is a great way for us to remember what's really important in life.