Giving Tuesday

Today is #GivingTuesday…why should you care?
By Heather Shanahan, Executive Director

First of all, what is it? Surveys show that if you are Gen Z, you have better than a 50/50 chance of knowing about Giving Tuesday. If you are a Baby Boomer, maybe not so much. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by teams at the 92nd Street Y in New York and the United Nations Foundation in an effort to combat the unbridled consumerism we as Americans exhibit on Black Friday and Cyber Monday (Source: “Why America Gives 2019: How Current Events, Technology, and Seasonality Impact Donor Plans” Classy, Inc).. While this makes for a merry holiday season in our homes and for retailers, I can’t help but think how powerful it would be if we all pushed back from our Thanksgiving dinners, took a nap and then got in line so we could be first inside to help our local non-profits when the clock struck midnight on Friday. The social media element of #GivingTuesday has turned this into an international day of giving. We can all make a difference.

Regardless of what you believe about climate change, you have to be impressed with the impact of young Greta Thunberg. The 16-year old Swedish activist bravely took on the UN General Assembly in September and has prompted the largest climate strike in history. One small voice has turned into a roar. I think people often don’t give to non-profits because they believe that their small gift couldn’t possibly have much impact. This is wrong. There is so much need in the world. Hunger, access to healthcare, transportation challenges, homelessness…these things are real. Non-profit organizations are overwhelmed with need, and you would be hard-pressed to find one that would say, “Nah, no thanks for the donation, we are good.” Small gifts, like small voices, add up.

This holiday season, maybe do something different. How much more stuff do the people in your life need? Please consider giving this year on #GivingTuesday. Give in honor or in memory of someone you love or lost — give to a cause you care about and don’t assume they don’t need you. Give because your life and heart is full.

I recently sat across the table from a grieving woman. In response to her tears, I said “I understand.” She looked at me and said, “No, I don’t think you do.” She was right. Give because you may not walk in their shoes or give because you have. Know that even your small gift can impact change.

In my role at the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, I see families every day who are facing one of life’s greatest obstacles. And while many of us may never walk in their shoes, we do know that small kindnesses add up in times of crisis. Today, on #GivingTuesday, I challenge you to find an organization that speaks to you, and make a gift—no matter the size.

For more information on the Ronald McDonald House of Chapel Hill, visit

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