Giving Thanks, and Giving Back: Ushering in the Season of Giving

The sides are in the oven, the turkey’s been basted to perfection, and the table’s been set:  there’s no denying that food is central to the Thanksgiving holiday. There’s something sacred about sharing a meal with friends and family, putting differences aside for a day and coming together over food and drink to usher in the holiday season.  Thanksgiving is a time of gratitude and reflection as well as feasting — it’s a time to be grateful for all that has been given to you over the past year, taking stock of your blessings and appreciating your circumstances. It’s also the beginning of the holidays, the Season of Giving.

The annual bombardment of Black Friday deals from retailers jockeying for your business has commenced (likely weeks ago as a trickle, with increasing intensity and insistence), but there’s more to the giving spirit of the season than purchasing gifts.  Now is the time to be conscious of your impact on the community, both as you make your holiday purchases and as you consider giving to organizations making a difference in causes you care about.

Partly in response to commercial days like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, the business and nonprofit communities (particularly those with a focus on sustainability and affecting positive change in the communities they serve) have created Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday, two days occurring close to these retail holidays that are meant to raise consumer awareness and get customers to spend their money in ways that will have the most impact on their communities.  

So just how big a deal are these days?  Here, we’ll discuss why Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday matter, and how they can help you make the most of your planned gifts, both personal and philanthropic.

Think Globally, Shop Locally:  Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is November 24, 2018, a day meant to spotlight small, locally owned and operated businesses in your community.  Shopping local does more than help put food on the tables of your neighbors, it also benefits your community as a whole in more ways than you probably realize.  

small business saturdayBuying local is one of the best ways to invest in your community:  an average of $68 of every $100 spent at a small business stays within the community it serves, a figure more than double the amount invested by most chain retailers.  Local businesses also create more jobs with less money ($10 million gets about 57 jobs at local businesses, compared to 14 jobs at Amazon) and promote diversity of both products and people within communities.  

Shopping local is good for the environment, too:  walking or biking to a local shop saves unnecessary emissions, and buying from merchants who stock locally-sourced goods helps reduce the impact of shipping.  Buying local also creates a relationship-based economy, strengthening networks while holding companies accountable to the communities they serve.

Supporting local business can help boost property values in your community in addition to investing money directly back into it.  Thriving businesses can lead to higher resale values in your neighborhood. Doing your Christmas shopping (even in part) at local businesses is a direct, major investment in your community.

Check out small businesses in your area, or download materials to advertise your own small business for Small Business Saturday.  On November 24, think big and shop small!

Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday, November 27 2018, is a day of charitable giving to kick off the season when many people choose to focus their holiday and end-of-year giving.  Whether you choose to give your time, a material gift in the form of donations, or a monetary gift, Giving Tuesday is an excellent opportunity to give back to your community directly.  

If you’re a nonprofit, Giving Tuesday is a very important day to prepare for and you need to be ready.  Here, we’ll discuss some tips to help you make sure you’re fully prepared for Giving Tuesday.

  1. Make sure your nonprofit’s fundraising communications (both written and oral material) are completely accurate, truthful, and free from any misrepresentations.
  2. Your nonprofit should be properly registered to engage in charitable business in all applicable states and jurisdictions, including foreign territories.  Make sure your registration is current and complete well in advance of the big day.
  3. If you’re running fundraising events in another state or jurisdiction outside the state your nonprofit was formed in, make sure your nonprofit is qualified to operate there and figure out whether you should apply for state tax-exemption.  This is separate from the registration requirement above.
  4. If you’re soliciting funds for a specific purpose, project, or program, be intentional.  You may be creating restricted funds that need to be accounted for separately from your general operating funds, so be sure of what you’re doing before proceeding.  
  5. It’s okay to use independent contractors to assist you in your Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign, provided they are registered commercial fundraisers or fundraising counsel, or fall outside of the legal definitions of those regulated positions.  You can find the definitions here.

Getting ready for Giving Tuesday can be stressful, but it’s also exciting!  Don’t panic, but do make sure your legal nonprofit status is secured, all your fundraising materials are factually correct and don’t misrepresent your nonprofit’s purpose or work, and ensure that anyone working with you in a regulated position is qualified to do so.  

Getting into the giving spirit can be rewarding for you as well as your community.  With abundant local businesses to choose from, doing your Christmas shopping locally is a great way to invest in your community as you find the perfect gifts for your loved ones.  Shop local this holiday season, and consider giving to a local cause on Giving Tuesday. Happy holidays!