(Photo: Reuters/Lucy Nicholson)
Standing in contrast to the commercialism and consumerism that grips retailers and Americans during the holiday season, the national #GivingTuesday initiative hopes to inspire a season of selflessness and generosity amid Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
"We were thinking from the beginning – Black Friday, Cyber Monday – we have two days that are good for the economy. What about adding a day that's good for the soul?" shared Henry Tims, Deputy Executive Director of the historic 92nd Street Y (92Y) in New York City, with The Christian Post.
Spearheaded by 92Y and the United Nations Foundation, #GivingTuesday has attracted more than 1,000 partners in all 50 states – including nonprofits, small businesses, church groups and major retailers – in joining hands to help make Nov. 27 "a day of generosity that will impact millions of people," according to a press statement.
#GivingTuesday organizers also have been working alongside a core group of founding partners to rally Americans to "get out and give" on Tuesday. Core partners include the American Red Cross, JC Penney, The Salvation Army and several other organizations and businesses.
Americans are being called on through #GivingTuesday to give of their time and their resources to help those in need – to essentially continue the kind of generosity that has been seen in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, especially along the nation's East Coast.
The outreach from Sandy has shown just how generous Americans truly are, according to Aaron Sherinian, Vice President for Communications and Public Relations for the U.N. Foundation.
"We are people who give to our communities, through our churches, through our volunteer organizations, and one thing that we've found this year... is that when the going gets tough, the tough start giving," he said.
"That's something people often lose sight of," added Tims. "We always talk about how America is falling down the rankings in education, or falling down the rankings in science. But America is No. 1...the most generous country in the world. Part of the DNA of America is philanthropy, and this is a real chance to celebrate that philanthropic spirit."
At GivingTuesday.org, visitors can find an exhaustive list of proposals from campaign partners sharing ways in which participants can volunteer on Nov. 27. Groups or individuals unsure of ways to make an impact can find inspiration at the campaign website's "Ideas" page, as well as platforms to donate online.
Sharing how the initiative's "army of Social Media Ambassadors" help educate volunteers and participants in how to give and "give smarter," Sherinian noted that a major part of launch day involves people "showing and sharing in the moment through photos, through posting where they are and what they're doing, so that people can get a sense for just how much giving goes on in our country after a weekend that's all about shopping and taking and receiving and consuming."
Organizers hope that #GivingTuesday will become, like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, a staple of the holiday season, a day to "activate and celebrate giving across the country."
"We're really asking people everywhere to think about what they're going to be doing on #GivingTuesday, whether that's having a conversation with your family around giving, around a family gift, around volunteering, whether it's making a personal commitment to volunteer or (make) a donation. We're really asking everyone everywhere to consider marking #GivingTuesday as a day to give, just as in the same way we mark Black Friday to get a deal," said Tims.
The 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center founded in 1874, is a Jewish organization that welcomes and reaches out to people of all racial, religious and ethnic backgrounds. The United Nations Foundation was created in 1998 with a $1 billion gift from entrepreneur and philanthropist Ted Turner. The organization, a public charity, connects people, ideas, and resources to help the U.N. solve global problems.