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Giving Back to Community

Don't Just Give, Give Back this Holiday Season

Asha Curran is the Director of Innovation and Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y, founders of #GivingTuesday, a global day of giving that will take place this year on November 29. Here, she shares some ways you can add more "giving" to your own life this holiday season.

The circle of giving brings out the best in all of us. It represents our moral drive to pay it forward when we feel grateful. And when we give, the benefits are immense. Research shows that people who give are happier, more fulfilled, more empathetic, even more professionally successful. Giving leads to even more gratitude, which then leads to more giving. And so it goes.

#GivingTuesday started as a simple idea, originating from 92nd Street Y, a center for culture and community in New York City: to bring the idea of “giving" to the forefront in the days following Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Now, four years later, it has engaged people who never considered themselves philanthropists, who didn't realize they had so much to give—who were never before invited to be part of what we like to call “the giving chain."

Asha Curran

You don't have to be a millionaire to join the giving chain. Even the amount you'd pay for a fancy cup of coffee (or two) can make a difference to someone in need. And there are many ways you can give that don't cost a dime: Volunteer time at a local charitable organization, champion a cause you believe in on social media, invite friends to match your donation or check with your employer for matching donation programs. And don't forget to include your kids in your philanthropic efforts. #GivingTuesday has lots of great ideas for getting families involved in giving.

Here are just a few:

  • Ask your children to select a toy or gift to donate to charity to give to children in need.
  • Volunteer with your teens in the local community.
  • Hold a neighborhood yard or bake sale and donate proceeds to an organization of your choice.
  • Help your kids collect spare change or donate part of their allowance to a charity fund once per week. Work with them on researching causes and charities and select a nonprofit to donate the funds to at the end of the month.
  • This Thanksgiving, ask your family what they are thankful for and encourage them to say thank you by doing something kind for others.
  • Make a family challenge to have each family member perform at least one act of kindness per day. Help with your siblings' chores. Open the door for a neighbor. Perform one small act a day to make a difference.

It's important to encourage children early on to understand the importance of “community" and embracing a greater good. Paying it forward by fostering a generosity of spirit in the next generation is one of the greatest things we can do to engender a sense of global responsibility.

Communities around the country have responded to #GivingTuesday with local campaigns. To see the movement as it builds, check out the Giving Tuesday interactive map, an up-to-the-minute guide to campaigns around the country.

It is our great hope that what we're learning from #GivingTuesday—such as what causes move people, who is likely to give, what motivates them—will help make nonprofits more effective and able to do more good work.

But it's not just organizations that stand to learn and benefit. And, for individuals, it's more than just a day to give. It's a day to make a difference. It's also an opportunity to forget the craziness of everyday life, to cross political, geographic and demographic boundaries to reach out to one another.

Whether you've been a regular donor or volunteer or have yet to discover your own giving sweet spot, #GivingTuesday is here to urge you to become a philanthropist and let it change you for the good. Philanthropy is more than just writing a check; it's about allowing ourselves to be generous of spirit. Generosity of spirit embodies our hopes and dreams for a better world, and those hopes and dreams are what unite us all.

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