Not gonna lie…just as I was getting annoyed by the countless number of Black Friday ads that were hitting my inbox, the Giving Tuesday emails started rolling in. I knew about this campaign, started in response to the Black Friday craze. But I was a little put off by it at first.
As I was driving around on Thanksgiving, I had a change of heart. In fact, it was such a change of heart that I felt the need to blog about it. I have decided that Giving Tuesday might be our best effort at reclaiming the spirit and meaning of the Christmas season in our consumeristic culture. I think it may be more effective than Walmart greeters saying Merry Christmas or courthouses displaying manger scenes. Here are four reasons why I think so:
1. If you believe in the work of social and/or religious organizations, Giving Tuesday is your chance to tell them. At the end of the day, you show the Salvation Army that you support their work by giving. Well wishes and encouraging notes are thoughtful, but they do not pay the bills.The most discouraging reality for non-profit leaders is how hard they have to work at convincing us, those who love their work, that they need us to contribute financially if their services are to continue making an impact. Giving Tuesday gives you and me the chance to tell organizations like Family Promise of Jacksonville and Rethreaded Inc. that the service they provide to our communities is just as valuable (if not greater) as the sales at Target. So do your friends a huge favor this year and let them know in a tangible way that you appreciate what they do.
2. If you hate Black Friday, Giving Tuesday is the answer. I watched as countless friends, colleagues, and folks I follow in the twitter-verse posted their disappointment (and downright anger) at the idea of stores opening on Thanksgiving Day. Apparently, few people listened as stores like Walmart are poised to report record sales from adding a few hours to the biggest shopping day of the year. It seems to me that tweeting (and shouting) your disdain for the success of Black Friday may not be the best way to protest its popularity. Wouldn’t it be interesting though, if a portion of Black Friday sales went to local and national non-profits? How would Target and Best Buy respond if we consumers demanded that we would only give them our Black Friday business if they made generous donations to The American Heart Association or Broadway Cares? There is very little chance that Black Friday is going away any time soon. Giving Tuesday, however, is a chance to send a message in a language that corporate executives understand: DOLLARS.
3. If you distrust capitalism, then Giving Tuesday is the chance you have waited for. Full disclosure, I am a supporter of smart, socially driven capitalism. But I understand the many criticisms of our current economic system as it tends to reward those at the top while leaving out the vast majority of the working class and low income families. I believe that capitalism, when used correctly, can be a vehicle that raises everyone’s standard of living. But I know that there are far too many examples of those who have used it for their own personal and/or corporate means. This week, Pope Francis released a mission statement of sorts that included his critique of unfettered capitalism. So if you agree with him and many others who are skeptical of this system, let your protest be your dollars. The goal of most non-profits and social organizations is to bring in as many donations as possible so that they can serve, support, educate and elevate as many people as possible. Organizations like DLC Nurse and Learn, and yes, Campus to City Wesley Foundation (the ministry I work for) have always been about people more than the money, but the money allows them the ability to update and innovate how they do this. If you distrust capitalism, Giving Tuesday offers the chance to tip the scales in a significant way.
4. For Christ-followers, it is our biblical mandate to give generously. If you are a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, our call and heritage is to set the pace and standard for the rest of the world when it comes to charity. I always tell my Catholic friends that their church has always been on the cutting edge of social work and ministry, even before it was cool. Hospitals, orphanages, homeless missions and the like used to be major initiatives for the organized church. In recent decades, we have turned our focus inward — for good and not so good reasons. However, it is a new day for the followers of Jesus to reclaim our role as the front-runners and trend-setters of ‘loving our neighbor’. As a United Methodist, I wanna see organizations like UMVIM, SEJ and initiatives like the Advance Specials of the Florida Conference have all the resources they need to transform this world. If there was any day of the year that we had the chance to show the rest of the world that we are more than “organized butts in seats on Sundays”, it is Giving Tuesday. Not only does God love a cheerful giver, but the world is waiting on this kind of philanthropy. Come on Church!!!!
Did you get the message? You just spent way too much money on items that your family members and friends may not even like. But before us now is an opportunity to make a significant impact that goes beyond boxes and bows. I have mentioned a few organizations in this post that would benefit greatly from your contribution of $5 or $50 or $500 or maybe even $5000! I encourage you to consider how you can be a part of Giving Tuesday this year in such a way that it makes bigger headlines than any retailer could ever buy. Let’s give them the gift of continued support for the work of affirming the dignity of humanity in our cities and throughout the world.