The Best Way to Give on GivingTuesday

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Image from Care.org

Tomorrow is GivingTuesday, a holiday designed to remind us that, amidst the consumer frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, there are people and causes that need our help.  Originally created by the non-profit sector, GivingTuesday has evolved to include all kinds of giving.

To me, though, GivingTuesday is just the beginning of the Giving Season.

As the chaos of the holidays absorb us, it’s easy to get lost in the endless list of to-do’s–shopping, cleaning, cooking, decorating.  But for millions of Americans, that list sits alongside some serious challenges.

Whether a co-worker’s daughter is sick, a friend’s home is destroyed in a flood, or a cousin passes away leaving behind a mortgage and children, we all know someone who is struggling this holiday season.
This year, 54 million Americans will enter the holidays with medical debt they can’t pay; 10 million of us are un- or underemployed; and many will lose a breadwinning parent.
These hardships create stress and take away from the joy of the season.  But as a friend, a loved one, a co-worker, there are things we can do to help.  Here are just a few:

Give Creatively:

Think about some of the things that make the holidays so stressful and find ways to help a loved one with them.  Send dinner through a service like GrubHub, or set up a meal train for someone dealing with a premature baby in the hospital or caring for a sick relative.
Send a cleaning person via TaskRabbit or HomeJoy the week before Christmas or Hanukah.
Offer to babysit, do some grocery shopping, or pick up the kids from school.

Help Parents with Gift-Giving: 

Nothing is more stressful about the holidays to a parent than knowing that that they can’t give their children what they’re wishing for.  Ask a friend if their kids have wish list items you can help with.   Or, send gift cards “From Santa” to the parents for Amazon or Target, so they don’t feel like you’re offering charity.

Give Connections:

Thanks to the power of LinkedIn and Conspire, most of us are just a few clicks away from people who can change the lives of our loved ones.  If you know someone who is out of work, consider connecting them with opportunities you see on LinkedIn.

Give Emotional AND Financial Support:

The truth is that most families facing a hard situation need support.  They need to know they’re not alone.  Send text messages, words of encouragement, greeting cards–anything that says “I love you and I’m here for you.”
And of course, start a crowdfunding page for them.  The vast majority of bankruptcies happen because of an unexpected life event like an illness.  The average owed for these families is $17,000, which is a lot for one family but pretty easy to cover within someone’s network of friends, family, and co-workers.
If you have additional ways to give on GivingTuesday, I’d love to hear them!