by Patheresa Wells
Have you ever been in line for coffee and when you pull up to the window to pay, you find that a stranger paid? It’s such a simple act of kindness, yet that is where the joy comes from, how easy it is to give. GivingTuesday, held on Nov. 30 this year, centers on this idea of “radical generosity” — defined by the GivingTuesday organization as “[t]he concept that the suffering of others should be as intolerable to us as our own suffering.”
The idea for the day was created at the 92nd Street Y and its Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York City in 2012. Despite its humble beginnings, the day has grown into a collaborative global initiative involving millions of people who give each year. GivingTuesday is now its own nonprofit that rallies us to share in the spirit of giving routinely. According to The GivingTuesday, 2020 Impact Report, last year nearly 16 million Americans donated a total of $503 million. Worldwide, the donations went to over 75 countries. And the money isn’t all big gifts, donations from small donors increased by 10% in 2020.
Beyond money, GivingTuesday encourages showing kindness in many ways, including helping a neighbor, speaking out about an important issue, volunteering, and sharing a skill. There are so many ways to bring people of all backgrounds together to support each other. Some of these include writing letters to the eldery with Love for Our Elders, volunteering virtually with Be My Eyes — an app that connects blind and low-vision people with sighted volunteers — or even the small act of waving hello to the next person you see on the street.
This global movement has had a direct impact on local communities and specific causes. Cause-based coalitions include #LatinxGive, #GivingBlackTuesday, #GivingTuesdayLGBTQ, and others which can be found on the GivingTuesday website. There are also regional initiatives like Washington Gives. And the day is of immense importance to local nonprofits in South Seattle, many of which are BIPOC-led. These small to midsize local nonprofits are often started by community members who bridge the gaps left by our governing bodies or are addressing much-needed social change. Groups like Rainier Scholars, Fathers and Sons Together (FAST), Chief Seattle Club, and a multitude of other organizations are focusing on the issues that bring about change.
Cathie Wilmore started the nonprofit FAST with her husband Larry Wilmore. FAST is a youth development organization with a focus on family development through supporting fathers’ involvement with their families. Wilmore says that the donations they receive on GivingTuesday help them to “support our youth and their families with yearlong programming.” She says, “It’s definitely the gift that will keep on giving!”
And this help is needed now more than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the nonprofit sector immensely in the past two years. According to a 2020 study on how the pandemic is impacting Washington nonprofits, conducted by Nancy Bell Evans Center on Nonprofits & Philanthropy, “nonprofits are being asked to do more and more with less and less. Funding is down 30% and volunteerism is down 30–50%.”
GivingTuesday is a day to share joy, practice radical generosity, and show support to the nonprofits in our neighborhoods that are working to support and uplift our communities. The day isn’t just about giving once; it’s about finding simple ways to continue practicing generosity. Maybe that’s buying your neighbor a coffee, finding ways to volunteer, or committing to be vocal about an issue that is important to you. We must see each other and help each other, not just during the holidays or GivingTuesday but every day.
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Patheresa Wells is a poet, writer, and storyteller who lives in SeaTac, Washington. Born to a Black mother and Persian father, her experiences as a multicultural child shaped her desire to advocate for and amplify her community. She currently attends Highline College in Des Moines. Follow her on Twitter @PatheresaWells.
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