Thanksgiving approaches, but in an age of consumerism, it seems many have forgotten that the holiday is meant to be a time spent with loved ones, and to reflect on the things for which we are most thankful. Much of the focus online has been on the increasingly early “Black Friday” store openings – which have begun to bleed into Thanksgiving Day itself – and their effects on the stores’ workers. While it is easy to feel discouraged, one way to emerge from the funk is to shift focus to helping others. Thankfully, a new ‘holiday’ has emerged. New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation have partnered to create #GivingTuesday, a movement that has distinguished the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as a time for people to celebrate and encourage generosity, charitable activities, volunteerism, and advocacy to support nonprofit organizations. Anyone can participate in the movement by donating to charitable organizations and giving back to others, then sharing those experiences with friends and networks on social media using the hashtag.
In its third year, the global movement has engaged over 10,000 organizations worldwide, although #GivingTuesday is not an organization itself and does not accept donations. Rather, it is a movement created to celebrate and support nonprofit activism the day after Cyber Monday. This effort is so large that nonprofit technology provider and #GivingTuesday partner Blackbaud found that online giving increased by 90 percent for 3,800 nonprofits between 2012 and 2013. In addition to increasing philanthropy within the United States, #GivingTuesday is working with the United Nations Development Programme, TechSoup Global, and other global networks to celebrate local heroes and engage communities around the globe.
Although #GivingTuesday doesn’t stipulate how or to whom one should give, we should focus our giving on helping the unserved and underserved communities that still lack access to broadband. Because we live in a digital age, this type of service can be in the form of tweeting about an issue that affects those communities, such as digital redlining and access to broadband, or by donating a used phone, computer, or tablet. In fact, the Environment Protection Agency has a website with specific instructions on how and where to properly and safely donate used electronics, which can be done at most electronic retail stores.
Many local organizations also accept donations of computers and other electronics that they refurbish and redistribute. However, donors should do their own background research on the reputation of the organization to which they are contributing, as well as research on how to properly remove sensitive, personally identifiable information from their electronics prior to donating.
In addition, some wireless providers offer the option of ‘gifting’ funds to customer accounts to help pay for their services. This is a great option for people who want to help a family in need pay for broadband or wireless services that they might have otherwise discontinued due to financial difficulties.
This December 2nd, let us all put aside our #FirstWorldProblems and come together to help the digitally disenfranchised on #GivingTuesday.
Editor’s Note: Support MMTC on #GivingTuesday!
As you look for opportunities to give back on this important day, please keep in mind that MMTC is a 501(c) (3) public charity. A #GivingTuesday donation to support our work will help to bridge the digital divide and strengthen the pipeline for next generation leaders and entrepreneurs in the media, technology, and telecommunications industries.