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Five Ideas to Help Make Giving Tuesday 2021 Count

Words by Leon Kaye
Giving Tuesday

For close to a decade, the Giving Tuesday movement has been the social antidote to the excesses that often mark the holiday season. Year after the year, the people and organizations behind Giving Tuesday have been successful at urging citizens to donate whatever funds they can afford or to work within their communities to assist those amongst us who could use a lift. While traditionally Giving Tuesday occurs five days after the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday, in May 2020 another Giving Tuesday, organized in only six weeks, also witnessed a surge in donations to help people who were most affected by the global pandemic.

This year’s Giving Tuesday occurs next week, on November 30. While listing every worthy organization deserving of funds is an impossible task, should you be inclined to open your checkbook or type in your credit card number online, we offer a few ideas on how you can join the spirit of Giving Tuesday and offer a hand up to your community.

For those who want to be a part of Giving Tuesday here in the U.S. but are not sure where to start, this directory can help you find campaigns and local organizations in your area.

National Domestic Workers Alliance

Domestic workers — the majority of whom are women of color and immigrants — were especially hard hit by the pandemic and the economic fallout — and U.S.-based National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) has been among these oft-overlooked workers’ staunchest allies.

These people, including nannies, house cleaners, and home care workers for seniors and people with disabilities, were often the first to lose their income streams last year as families with means sheltered in place, required fewer services, and grew wary of others entering their homes. In addition, many domestic workers lack access to health insurance and paid sick leave through the agencies for which they work.

A donation to NDWA can help support this organization’s advocacy and support for domestic workers – which include the benefits that it provides to its members through a low monthly or annual fee.

Consider supporting local STEM education programs

While today’s economy is largely stacked against citizens who work for low wages in the service industries, the demand for technology workers is opening more doors to better-paying jobs. And no, we’re only not talking about plum engineering jobs at the leading tech giants – a STEM boot camp, a few technology classes or a certification can often lead to a job that is more rewarding personally while making it far easier to pay the bills. Meanwhile, more public school districts are launching STEM education programs that target youth in disadvantaged neighborhoods. Such programs can benefit from donations and sponsorships; many have the “donate” button promptly displayed on their websites for good reason.

Sharing the spirit of Giving Tuesday isn’t limited to donations

If you want to be a part of Giving Tuesday and you feel as if you can do your part by avoiding the giant online and brick-and-mortar retailers, that’s more than a fair response. Of course, the question comes up: What are the alternatives?

Let’s start with the Black community, which the pandemic especially hit hard. Promised a bill of goods over a year ago, many of those pledges companies made to Black business owners have since fallen short. With one study suggesting that almost 60 percent of Black-owned businesses ran into large financial risks, many of them quickly realized that they had no choice but to pivot and figure things out on their own.

So whether you prefer to shop online or are searching for a local business to spend your dollars, there are countless resources: This Fast Company article from 2020 offers a strong starting point. Further, if you’re throwing a holiday-themed gathering, consider trying a new caterer or venue for that party. Eat Okra, which runs an app that at last check says has been downloaded by at least 330,000 diners, could offer new culinary ideas and a way to keep those dollars circulating within your local community.

There’s a fundamental need for Giving Tuesday: fighting hunger

If your approach to Giving Tuesday, or the donating of funds throughout the year, is to address the most fundamental needs of your neighbors, then food banks must top your list this holiday season. The need is especially dire this fall and winter, as the continued surge in both food and housing prices are making it more difficult for families to get by and buy the bare minimum.

The news on food insecurity in the U.S. alone is bleak: Most food banks coast-to-coast are struggling to meet demand. The D.C. region’s Capital Area Food Bank, for example, reported to Axios last week that it will distribute about 45 million meals by its fiscal year-end, a huge jump from the annual 31 million meals in the pre-pandemic days.

To be clear, a donation to a food bank doesn’t mean going through your cupboards or pantry – the best thing to give is cash. “Cash donations also go much further as food banks across the nation can turn one dollar into four meals due to partnerships with food manufacturers or farmers to purchase food at cost or wholesale,” wrote Richelle Noroyan for 3p earlier this year.

Remember your LGBTQ neighbors

While corporations love to change their logos and express their standing by with the LGBTQ community during Pride Month, the reality is that year after year, in the grand scheme of things, corporate financial support for this community is quite paltry. The pandemic was also brutal to local LGBTQ centers, many of which were shuttered for months on end due to restrictions to combat the ongoing public health crisis. Now, the rise of anti-transgender legislation and the politicization of LGBTQ-themed literature in public schools make many wonder if we’re living in 2021 or 1961.

This Advocate article from 2019 offers a few ideas on where you donate spend your dollars. The Horizons Foundation, which organizes an annual “Give Out” day, is worth considering; if your focus is more on supporting human rights for the international LGBTQ community, New York City-based Outright has launched its own Giving Tuesday campaign. To help LGBTQ youth in crisis, The Trevor Project is another organization deserving of donations.

Image credit: Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

Leon Kaye headshotLeon Kaye

Leon Kaye has written for TriplePundit since 2010, and became its Executive Editor in 2018. He's based in Fresno, CA, from where he happily explores California’s stellar Central Coast and the national parks in the Sierra Nevadas. He's worked and lived in South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and Uruguay, and has traveled to over 70 countries. He's an alum of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and the University of Southern California.

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