Updated: May 8
If you live on the East Coast of the US or Canada, it may already be getting to be late in the day, but it isn’t too late to pick a charity and give a gift of any size.
Giving Tuesday is the annual celebration of all of the hard work performed all year long by non-profit organizations across the world. Moreover, it is a chance for all of us to come together in community and unleash a movement of global generosity that says that we are more than the year’s bad news that seems to dominate our minds; that we are more than individuals that do what we can to survive; that we are more than the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
Giving Tuesday is a yearly declaration that we are a species that cares about the welfare of others – other people, other species, and the planet on which we all live. It is a recognition of the power of generosity to improve lives and bring greater meaning to our existence.
I hope you all join Inciting Altruism in finding an organization to give to if you haven’t already today. iA has done a lot of research as to particularly effective charities, so please reach out to us if you would like some guidance in picking a worthy organization. Likewise, if you have suggestions for iA of impactful charities that should be on our radar and that we should donate to, drop a link in the comments or send us a message via our contact page.
Despite all of the above, the decision to give can be a tough one. Chances are, if you are reading this post, you know why it is a good thing to give today. You don’t need me to tell you that every incremental dollar given to charity has the chance of restoring the dignity of someone in need or even saving a life. You might already know that studies show we could end world hunger (at a surprisingly low cost) if only we were to properly dedicate our collective financial resources.
It is not the knowledge of the good it can do that often prevents us from giving. Rather it is the fear of the bad that giving might bring which leads to hesitation. We pause because we don’t want to cause any harm to ourselves or to others in our efforts to help others. When we choose not to give, we usually do so not because we are bad people, but because we are good people with some mistaken internal dialogues.
What does this mean? It means I am not going to give you any more reasons to give, rather I am just going to address some of the points that some part of you might be thinking that are meant to convince you not to give. We all fall victim to cognitive biases, some of which I am going to try to dispel.
“Didn’t I give as a part of Giving Tuesday just a few months ago”
You’re not wrong. Giving Tuesday 2019 fell on December 5th. In fact, Giving Tuesday has historically fallen towards the end of the calendar year. Today’s Giving Tuesday is actually a special edition of the holiday called Giving Tuesday Now, which was created in response to the global health crisis caused by COVID-19.
Unfortunately, almost all non-profits are struggling as a result of the coronavirus crisis, not just those related to healthcare. I have been in conversations with non-profit leaders in domains from economic development to human rights and amnesty, who are worried that either their organization or their small-scale NGO partners will have to permanently shut their doors as a result of decreased funding.
As such try and remember to not forget the social causes that you care about during this time when the crisis dominates the news. Yes, we need to make sure our healthcare systems and families have the resources they need; that should be priority one. But we also should not forget the political prisoners, the refugees, and the marginalized communities whose voices needed amplification before the crisis began and will continue to need amplification as long as this crisis lasts.
Giving Tuesday Now is not just another day to give. It is another chance to give. We may be unfortunate to have to confront a crisis as a global community, but we are lucky to have the chance to come together once more and reaffirm our values as human beings.
“I don’t know which organizations can be trusted”
This is a very important question to consider when giving to a charity, but the fear that charities are going to misuse your money or end up harming their constituents is largely overblown. The fact of the matter is that the vast majority of charities care deeply about the populations they are legally mandated to serve. The news media has a bad habit of aggrandizing the stories of a few bad eggs, while largely ignoring the good that charities do day-in and day-out.
Regardless, it is still valid to want to be sure that your money is going towards solving the issues you care about. The relationship between donor and donee is one of trust, and thus transparency is an important issue. Luckily, there are many organizations out there that care about the same thing that you do and can quell some of this unease.
Charity Navigator and Guide Star are two great places to start. They vet charitable organizations and give scores across unbiased metrics for accountability, transparency, and financials. In fact, you can search up any charity that you might be interested in donating to and see their tax returns from prior years (assuming the organization is at least 5 years old).
If you want to go one step further, you can check out GiveWell, which is an organization devoted to researching and promoting only the most effective charities in the world. In other ways by giving to a GiveWell recommended charity, your dollar leads to more lives saved per cent than giving to almost any other charity.
Still reticent? Talk to us. I have been fortunate to work in a field that has required me to research and vet hundreds of charities. As part of my work at iA, I have been putting together a list of the world’s most effective charities and programs. More to come on a specific list soon; this will be a future initiative for iA. For now, just shoot us a message via our contact page, or on whatever social media platform, and we can get back to you with some personalized suggestions.
Lastly, if you aren’t convinced by any of these charitable organizations, you can always give directly to someone in need. If you know someone who is struggling to get by, maybe purchase their groceries, pay for their gas, or put some money towards paying down debt they might have. There is always a way to give to others, even if you don’t want to give through a charity.
"Giving sounds like an interesting idea, I'll think about it a bit and give later."
Think about all the times that someone has stopped you on the street and encouraged you to give to one cause or another. Now how many times, totally well-intentioned, did you say to that person that you'll do some more research, give it some thought, and give later, only to have that organization or cause slip your mind and not return.
I for one, am totally guilty of this. I know I want to do more, but naturally, day to day life creeps in and occupies 99% of my thoughts. As part of my commitment to iA, I have been trying to make a conscious effort to consider the lives and welfare of others more frequently, but it isn't always easy. It often takes a reminder to force me to look outside of myself remember that there are others struggling with much greater challenges.
Now I have made the decision to help (presuming I can) whenever I get one of those reminders. After all, if you aren't going to act when you receive a literal call-to-action, when are you going to act. There is no guarantee that a reminder of the needs of others is going to reoccur later in the day when you are supposed to be mulling over your decision to give. There is no guarantee that you will receive a reminder later in the week – that is (cue shameless plug) unless you are subscribed to Inciting Altruism.
Giving to charity is a deeply personal choice, and is certainly worthy of some serious thought. All I am saying is why not give it that thought now? "Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today," because people need your help today.
We have one more concern to go over before we reach the end of this article, but try and hold that idea in your mind as you read on, for there is no guarantee it will return.
“Budgets are tight, I don’t think I have the money to give right now.”
Only you know your budget. I won’t try and tell you whether or not you have the money to give, and I definitely will not tell you to put your family at risk to try and help another. What I will say is that there is often more money in the budget than we think, because we make choices every day as to what to spend our money on.
I remember going through college on a tight budget, thinking that I didn’t have any extra to give. At the same time, I seemed to have enough money for a few beers at least twice a week with my friends. When I got involved with fundraising and witnessed generosity on the part of those whom I had thought truly had nothing left to give, I realized that there was a way I could budget my money differently and make a big difference.
For you, it might not be beers. Maybe you get a daily Starbucks that you could do without once a month. Maybe you order one less pizza. Choosing to have one less cup of coffee frees up $5. Choosing to order one less pizza frees up $15. All it took was a small shift in how I thought about my spending and I got to help someone in need, felt happier and better about myself having given, and I was making healthier lifestyle choices in regards to drinking.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how much you give so long as you make the conscious decision to give. Any sum of money will help an organization of your choosing. Making giving a habit in your life, however, will help you even more. Studies show that habitual giving leads to greater levels of happiness amongst those who give and may even lead to longer lives.
So, join Inciting Altruism in giving any sum this Tuesday, and if you can, join us in giving every Tuesday after that. Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns about giving, volunteering, or any act of kindness in between, we will be here to help.
- For more information on giving Tuesday, check out this article by the Whole Whale on Giving Tuesday 2019. Believe it or not, over half a billion dollars was raised by individual donors on Giving Tuesday last year.
- Do you like to support local organizations? GivingTuesday.org has a searchable inventory of organizations that are doing good in your community and could use a little extra funding.
- To learn more about what it will take to end world hunger and malnutrition, check out this report by the International Food Policy Research Institute.
- For more about the link between conscious giving and sustained happiness, check out this study by the University of California Berkely.
- For an organization that tries to help restore the balance of news articles that go towards the positive work performed by charities, check out Solutions U Journalism.
About the Author
Gregory Light is a bartender, a traveler, a cook, a guitar player, a blackbelt, a French speaker, a cliff diver, a part-time theoretical physicist, a philosopher, a dog owner, a Star Wars lover, and probably some other things too. Notably, no one has ever seen Gregory and Batman in the same room…
He loves to rock climb, hike, and explore new trails. Most of all he loves learning more about the world by getting to know strangers as friends.