Having survived the throngs of Black Friday shoppers and finding myself surfing for Cyber Monday sales, I lament if, just maybe, Christmas “deal shopping” has become the true/new meaning of the season. Somewhere in my mind, the theme song to Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch rings, along with the quote, “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. The Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas … He thought …means a little bit more.”
Enter, Giving Tuesday.
Started in 2012 by a group of charitable organizations, Giving Tuesday was designed to follow the frenzy of indulgent gift buying and deal shopping. While one could argue that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are good for the economy, Giving Tuesday is good for the community and I argue – good for the soul. And the great news is, as a public movement, everyone and anyone can participate! Individuals, families and workplace employees alike are encouraged to get involved by volunteering and/or donating to their favourite charity or not-for-profit.
Now to find a suitable charity or not-for-profit to support.
While identifying a cause and organization, which matches your beliefs is one aspect of the search, donors should also do a little investigating. Supporters should be wary of simply selecting the biggest names in the sector. In essence, donors should both know thy self and know thy charity. While there are countless causes to support – not all are created equally. As a donor, you should look upon your gift as an “investment”.
Some basic questions to start you on your search include …
• Is a tax receipt important to you? Remember not all not-for-profits are registered with CRA meaning they cannot issue tax receipts.
• Make certain the organization has a well thought out mission and even better, a history of supporting that mission. What types of services and programs does the charity offer and the big question – are they effective? You want your support to have meaningful impact.
• As a donor, you should check to see if the charity has a large endowment fund. Frankly, some charities may not need your money. Go where your “investment” will make a difference.
• While the charity may be supporting a cause that interests you, how much of your “investment” will actually go directly to the cause. Donors should find out what percentage of their gift goes toward supporting salaries and other administrative overhead.
• Another good question to ask is whether the organization has matching programs. It’s always good to learn that your “investment” will be matched in full, meaning double the impact. Some organizations, like PayPal and Interact, have special matching promotions exclusively for Giving Tuesday.
So rather than just buying our holiday cheer this year, let’s join in the spirit of Giving Tuesday … let’s celebrate beyond the buttons and bows.
Quick Facts about the Canadian Not-for-Profit and Charitable Sector
It is estimated that there are 170,000 not-for-profits and charities in Canada
Canada’s charitable and not-for-profit sector is the 2nd largest in the world. The Netherlands ranks first and the US ranks 6th.
The sector represents $106 billion or 8.1% of the GDP (larger than the automotive or manufacturing industries)
(Imagine Canada, 2015)
Paula MacNeil, CFRE
Director of Development