In a recent blog I predicted the end of Cyber Monday but it turns out I was wrong, at least this year. Online retailers had their best sales day ever while Black Friday sales slumped. Perhaps my forecast will improve next year. This year I noticed something new to the holiday season—Giving Tuesday. According to givingtuesday.org, this movement was started by the 92nd Street Y in New York City in 2012. The concept has grown through social media and has been adopted by charities and other aid organizations as a reminder to give back to the community.
My new prediction is the continued growth of Giving Tuesday and I truly hope that I am right this time. There is an adage, “Where much is given, much is expected.” I know that I have been given much and I try to return that favor on Giving Tuesday and the rest of the year. In this blog, I want to encourage you to think of all that you have and how you can help others during the holiday season and beyond.
One of my first lessons in giving came through a fifth grade class project. Our class assembled a large fruit basket for elderly residents of a downtown rest home. To select which class members would deliver the basket, the teacher had us choose a number between one and one thousand. I chose the first number that came into my head, which was 365, the number of days in a year. Apparently the teacher and I were on the same wavelength because I nailed it exactly. Four of us took the basket downtown and while I was nervous visiting a rest home for the first time in my life, I noticed that our presence meant even more to the residents than the basket. The gift was symbolic but they loved having us talk with them and spend time getting to know them. It was then I realized that giving of our time and talents often means as much or more than a gift.
Currently I give a lot of my extra time to youth organizations teaching leadership and life skills. I am hoping to influence my future by preparing these young people to lead well as they take over, which will afford me more time on the golf course. In this sense my motives are selfish, but my heart is in the right place. I also serve on a non-profit board of directors helping to provide oversight to a wonderful organization that contributes much to my community. My monetary gifts often go to medical research or directly to an individual who is struggling with health issues. I am careful about directing my money to where I think it can do the most good.
Whether you give time or money, it is important to remember that giving is about helping people and building connections.
I wholeheartedly support Giving Tuesday and the change they are trying to bring about. It helps to focus on giving at least one day out of the year, and hopefully that will inspire giving throughout the year. I would love to hear your stories about how you give back to your community. What causes are you most passionate about? How are you affecting change in your community and the world beyond? Let me know.
Kelly Brown is an IT professional and assistant professor of practice for the UO Applied Information Management Master’s Degree Program. He writes about IT and business topics that keep him up at night.