Tomorrow is #GivingTuesday, a day dedicated to giving back at the beginning of the Christmas and holiday season. The founders of Giving Tuesday wanted to offer an alternative to the commercialization of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
The founders of #GivingTuesday are right. The holidays are packed with commercialization and consumerism. My local grocery stores have already rolled out their Christmas decor, and the snow covering the ground here in Kansas sure isn’t helping me stay in the present moment without mentally jumping to Christmas morning.
But what if your budget is tight this Giving Tuesday? There are some incredible organizations to donate money to, and we’re called to be generous with our dollars. But if you’re looking for some non-monetary ways to give back this week, here are eight ideas to try out.
1. Donate your time
Dr. Seuss famously wrote, “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more!” We each have special gifts (charisms!) that we can give others, and they aren’t gifts that we can pick up off of the shelf at Target. Target is wonderful, but it only has so much.
This week, donate your time with an organization that you’re passionate about. Maybe you have a gift of teaching. Spend time with your local Boys and Girls club or an after school program in your area and invest in the kids of your community. Maybe your gift is creativity, and you love taking photos. Ask your local humane shelter if they need someone to take pictures of their animals in need of adoption to promote their cause.
Regardless of what your gifts and talents are, there is a way to share them (and your time!) with the world and your community. Spend time researching the options out there for you and commit to one during this holiday season!
2. Organize that ONE closet in your house
Joseph and I are packing up our house for our third move in less than three years (I swear I don’t enjoy packing that much, and it’s not because we’re awful renters). Last weekend, he and I went through every single cabinet and closet in our house and donated everything we haven’t used in the past year.
We took a car load of bags and boxes to our local thrift store and it was incredible. Our favorite thrift store in town is owned by City Union Mission, which serves the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of women, men, and children who are poor and homeless right here in our own city.
So, this week, reject the commercialism today’s culture offers and be intentional with your possessions. Clean out that one closet in your house that you rarely go into and see what you can give to someone.
3. Compliment someone today
When was the last time someone gave you a compliment? What was your reaction?
I know that when someone compliments me, it makes my day. But you don’t have to just be the receiver of compliments, you can be the giver, too!
Today, compliment someone in your life. Maybe you send a text to a good friend and thank them for their intentionality in your friendship. It could include sincerely complimenting the person ahead of you in the coffee store line on their clothing, or choice of book they’ve brought to read while sipping on a latte.
4. Share your favorite small business or organization
Who is your go-to small business for unique, gorgeous gifts? What organization inspires you with the way they reach out to others and live out their unique gifts?
Today, mention that business or organization in conversation with friends. You can also share their page on Facebook, or talk about your favorite product or cause on Instagram. Having a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend always encourages me to go explore what they’re talking about.
If you can’t support your favorite organization with money this year, help them get the word out about their mission!
5. Rate and review your favorite podcast or blog
Giving Tuesday is a global day of giving, and you can use this day to help give back to your favorite blogs and podcasts. Start your morning everyday with a read-through of your favorite blogs? Leave them a comment knowing you appreciate their work.
Do you love the work that your favorite podcast is doing? Consider supporting the podcast by rating and reviewing the podcast on iTunes. It's that simple! The more rates and reviews a podcast has, the easier it is for other listeners to find the podcast and get access to great episodes and resources.
(You can find Letters to Women on iTunes here!)
6. Leave time in the margins of your day
When you hear the call to be generous, do you wince and wonder how you’ll possibly add one more thing to your calendar? The call to be generous isn’t the call to add on another thing to your to-do list. Instead, it’s an invitation into a way of life.
Start living generously by simply leaving room in the margins of your day to encounter others. If you’re rushing from one thing to the next, it can be difficult to spend time with others who didn’t have a calendar appointment with you. When you leave room in the margins of your schedule, you can authentically encounter others in your life without stressing out about running late to your next event. Leave an extra fifteen minutes between things you have to do so that you can be generous with the time you have.
7. Go hands free for the day
“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon, instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today,” wrote Dale Carnegie.
One thing we’re usually too generous with as a society is how much time we spend in front of a screen. We give Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and a slew of other apps our full attention for hours on hours. So this week, be intentional with those who are in front of you instead of those who are in on the screen.
Joseph and I recently started turning off our phones on Sundays, and it’s been incredible. We have great conversations, accomplish things together, and enjoy each other’s company without distractions.
Today, spend time with your family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors without a screen between you.
8. Open up your home to friends
Want to be generous with your time and your gifts? Open up your home for an evening and invite friends over for dinner, dessert, drinks, board games, or whatever would make for a fun evening together!
Twice a month, Joseph and I will host dinner parties and Sunday brunches with friends from our parish or around the Kansas City area. It’s a great way to get to know new friends and spend time with friends we don’t get to see very often. We have great conversations, pull out a few board games, make a couple of drinks and enjoy holy leisure with people.
More of an introvert? You don’t have to invite every single person who you’re friend with on Facebook. Pick a few friends who you love spending time with and intentionally pour into your friendships with them!