Staff Blog

This is a space where Foundation staff share their thoughts and musings on giving and community:

Giving Tuesday - A New #Tradition

Posted by: Dan Smith on 11/28/2017

During a time when digital and social communications seem to offer such potent fuel for anxiety, the now six-year-old tradition of Giving Tuesday offers a chance for us to rebut a narrative of civic and community dysfunction. Giving Tuesday emerged as a social media #hashtag to inspire year-end philanthropy on the heels of Thanksgiving and the outset of the holiday season. After Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I guess we might need a reminder in our digital feeds.

Being reminded to give is never a bad thing. In giving, we make two modest yet profound statements. First, we make a statement that we matter to each other: our neighbors, our youth and families, our landscape, our communities. We share in each other’s well-being. Second, we make a statement that it is within our power to make a difference. No matter how we give, whether we click a link and send dollars or whether we give as a volunteer or a neighbor with a helping hand, the willingness to give is informed by a sense that a circumstance will be tangibly different. A problem may not be fixed entirely, but it will be better than it was. The Giving Tuesday tradition offers us a powerful chance to reconnect with those sentiments and share them across our hyper-connected world.

Traditions can be funny things. They hold power as time and behavior ebbs away from whatever drove them at the start.  Absent reflection, sometimes they obscure their underpinnings. We give because we always have. We give because the right person always asks. We give because a #hashtag reminded us.  Hard to tell when a tradition becomes a tradition. It is also hard also to tell when it fades to such obscurity that it is no longer recognizable.

I find myself thinking of our twin boys, almost one year old, and the traditions that we hope to impart to them and they to their kids. More than anything else, I hope they grow to be the kind of people who are willing to help. Helping a neighbor stacking wood or shoveling snow. Being a mentor to a young person. Showing up to town meeting. Looking out for those less fortunate than they are. Taking the extra step to ensure someone feels heard and respected and at home in a community. Giving of themselves in support of the idea that we all matter to each other. Giving because we can make a difference for someone, somewhere.

For some, it is hard to connect a #hashtag with the weight of tradition. But if a hashtag like #GivingTuesday is a tradition that unlocks our commitment to each other and brings us all a bit closer together, it offers a third reminder: be willing to be inspired. It can come from any direction.

#GivingTuesday #givetogether #beinspired  

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