3 tips to letting your generous spirit glow this holiday season
The holiday season is in full swing whether you’re ready for it or not. The holidays are a time to cherish your family, reflect on your blessings and share a little bit of extra warmth and light with those who cross your path.
Often, the focus of the season gets shifted to finding the perfect gifts and staying so busy with parties and gatherings that you lose sight of what’s important. It happens to the best of us, but this year, we should make a more conscious effort to brighten and enrich the lives of others less fortunate than ourselves.
This idea is the driving force behind Giving Tuesday. Read on to learn more about the concept of Giving Tuesday and get some ideas about how you can give back this season.
What Is Giving Tuesday?
The campaign was created in 2012 by the Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact in New York. The purpose of the project is to connect people from all different backgrounds, ethnicities and locations and unite them with a common goal: to celebrate and encourage acts of kindness.
The Giving Tuesday campaign is always celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving in the United States, but the movement has gained so much traction that organizations hold events to support the cause throughout the entire year. By using the hashtag #GivingTuesday, the cause is able to harness the immense power of social media to connect charities, corporations, small businesses, individuals and families to create a massive, unstoppable force of philanthropy and kindness.
Giving Tuesday currently reaches over 100 countries and has raised hundreds of millions of dollars to help those in need. Even if you’re not able to donate money, there are still plenty of ways you can participate in this worldwide project of love and generosity.
How can I give back?
While monetary donations are always a great option, there are still plenty of opportunities to become a part of the movement that only involve time and motivation.
- Use your business as a platform
If you’re a business owner or self-employed, you can put together your own Giving Tuesday campaign and hold promotional sales or a special event to raise awareness. You can even look into sponsoring local charity events in your community such as a 5k or veteran’s program. Forbes has created a great list of potential ways to drum up a quick and effective Giving Tuesday campaign for your business.
Because Giving Tuesday has evolved into a huge, global phenomenon, you can do a quick internet search for Giving Tuesday events happening in or around your community. Many nonprofits and charitable organizations hold local fundraisers or volunteer outings that you and your employees can join. In addition, civic programs and local organizations are usually thrilled to have a business collaborate with them to help increase notoriety and expand the program.
- Spread the word
Even if you aren’t a business owner, you can still get your workplace, school or community on board with the Giving Tuesday movement. The whole campaign started with a social media presence, so don’t be afraid to use that to your advantage. Email the information to your boss or bring up the idea to your school’s administration.
Remember that this campaign is about giving back to whatever cause you’re passionate about. This could be helping the homeless, reaching out to veterans, saving shelter animals, donating books to schools, visiting nursing homes or anything that moves you. There’s no wrong way to give back to others.
- Don’t discount the little things
Individuals can have a huge impact when it comes to giving. Even if you don’t have the time or resources to organize a community effort, you can still update your social media account to raise awareness and perform your own small acts of kindness throughout that day and the entire holiday season.
Stop and speak to a homeless person. Pay for the drive-thru order of the person behind you. Help a struggling mom load her groceries into the car. You are able to offer your own unique brand of thoughtfulness and generosity.
Why should I focus on giving back?
There’s no shame in feeling as if you’re too busy or overwhelmed to add more to your plate. We’ve all been there. Sometimes, the act of giving can feel as if another stressful chore is being added onto our already overloaded holiday agendas.
If you need a little bit of extra incentive to consider being charitable this holiday season, that’s okay. There are a surprising number of benefits that come back to you from performing acts of kindness and caring for others.
Believe it or not, acts of altruism and charity can actually lower your levels of stress and help lift your mood. This is because these small acts of kindness release a cocktail of happiness chemicals in your brain, including dopamine and oxytocin. Dopamine is responsible for your positive mood, and oxytocin is a chemical that will give you feelings of calmness, connectedness and inner peace.
In short, kindness toward others also equals kindness to yourself.
There are proven benefits to performing thoughtful or charitable acts for others. Even something as simple as offering a stranger a genuine smile is enough to start a cascade of good feelings that can help to alleviate stress, offer pain relief and elevate your mood. If you’re someone who struggles with depression, the effects of volunteering your time or donating to charity are even more pronounced.
The key here is that you must have genuine intentions. According to a Berkeley study, in order to reap the benefits of giving, you must give out of a true sense of selflessness rather than a feeling of obligation.
Make this year special by giving
Whether you give time, money, toys, books, baked goods or a genuine smile, be sure to take time out of your day to nurture a spirit of selflessness. Think about what drives you and your passions, and then take steps toward making a difference. You may only be one person, but one person with a genuinely altruistic heart is an amazing force for change.
Let Giving Tuesday be the start of your charitable holiday spirit. Get up and get involved in the global movement of bringing love and light to those in need.