Americans have become notorious for “celebrating” Black Friday, risking life and limb to participate in a shameless homage to consumerism making the last Friday in November one of the biggest retail days of the year. Businesses drop prices low so that shoppers will take advantage of seasonal bargains. This year Americans broke records, spending $5 billion in just digital sales alone. What used to be a single-day indulgence in low-cost deals has become a four-day spending spree that extends over the weekend ending in Cyber Monday, which focuses specifically on online deals.
Black Friday and the subsequent post-Thanksgiving shopping events have become synonymous with overconsumption, leading many people to abstain from the consumerist extravaganza to promote sustainability and workers rights. Although some choose to ignore the day altogether, others are making a difference in another way.
People are donating to their favorite charitable organizations on the Tuesday after Cyber Monday, coined #GivingTuesday, to help out charitable organizations. Since it began in 2012, the philanthropic event has become a popular way for regular people to support meaningful causes instead of spending their money on end-of-year shopping. According to CBS News, in 2016 donations peaked at $180 million— an increase of more than 12 times the amount from the previous year.
The Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center based in New York City that was founded in 1874, started the philanthropic holiday as a digital campaign aimed to get people to be more generous and socially conscious. #GivingTuesday isn’t just about money, people around the world are also encouraged to volunteer or engage in local community building efforts.
What you can do:
Since VICE Impact launched in April of 2017, we’ve been proud to work with a range of advocacy groups and nonprofits tirelessly working to make the world a better place. Please consider making a contribution, donating your time, or checking out the projects of these groups below:
- ACLU: The American Civil Liberties Union is an organization that works to promote the rights of marginalized people and their People Power campaign focuses on ending voter suppression--particularly lifetime voting bans for ex-offenders. Support their mission by donating to this important cause.
- Casa Ruby: LGBTQ youth, especially low-income populations and people of color, are vulnerable to homelessness, violence and poverty. Casa Ruby, an LGBTQ-run haven based in Washington D.C., provides a safe space for gender and sexual minorities as well as emergency housing and career assistance. Take the call to action and donate to their efforts.
- Covenant House: More than half a million homeless people sleep on the streets every night in the US, and at least ten percent of that population is under the age of 24. Covenant House is an organization that serves homeless youth in 31 cities across six countries-- including locations in Latin America. By making a donation you could save a life for someone experiencing homeless.
- Fight for the Future: This organization is trying to defend net neutrality, which means protecting the internet from interference from internet service providers. Consider making a donation to ensure net neutrality doesn’t become a thing of the past.
- National Center for Transgender Equality: The NCTE is dedicated to fighting all forms of gender-identity based discrimination. They’ve made huge strides in protecting the safety and rights of transgender people. Contribute to their initiative of equality by donating to their organization.
- Planned Parenthood: As a vital resource for low-cost health care, Planned Parenthood plays an important role for many U.S. citizens. Right now, the organization is campaigning to protect access to basic birth control following a rollback on family planning care by the Trump administration. If you support basic coverage for birth control, then make a contribution today.
- The Sierra Club: As one of the nation’s oldest environmental protection organizations, the Sierra Club is rallying mayors across the country to commit their cities to using 100 percent renewable energy. Donate to their organization to support their mission of clean energy and a healthy environment.
- Tyler Clementi Foundation: Online bullying is a problem and the Tyler Clementi Foundation has made it their mission to end harassment from trolls on the internet. Support their mission by donating to their organization.
And then some:
The Belfer Center for Innovation & Social Impact at the 92nd Street Y have partnered with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Facebook to make participating in giving festivities incredibly easy. The two organizations have also pledged to match donations up to 2 million dollars.
- You can make a donation through Facebook by finding their Facebook Page and clicking donate. According to Facebook, there are 1.5 million nonprofits using their pages to build their communities.
- Also, you can create a fundraiser for an organization or cause that is important to you on your Facebook profile or when you go live. Your friends can donate to your fundraiser then share the post on their newsfeed to continue the cycle of giving.
- If you want to encourage others to participate, change the frame of your profile picture on Facebook to the #GivingTuesday logo. Also, be share the hashtag #GivingTuesday on all your social media platforms to increase awareness of people taking action.
Check out Network for Good’s list of vetted nonprofit organizations and consider making a donation.
If you’re looking for other ways to get involved offline, #GivingTuesday has lots of alternatives for people to make a difference.
- If you’re able to donate blood, consider helping out patients in need of care.
- Use your photography skills to post an #UNselfie to show how you were able to give back on #GivingTuesday. You can download the #UNselfie template from the #GivingTuesday website.
- Also, consider doing something pro-bono by offering your skills or services to a charitable organization for free.