I Was Wrong About Giving Tuesday

As someone who works closely with several non-profit organizations, I am distinctly aware of Giving Tuesday.

In the United States, this Giving Tuesday “holiday” comes from an honorable desire to help non-profits continue their good work. However, there’s also an angle of manipulation, used to capitalize on a season when Americans are already spending a lot of money and feeling guilty about it.

The idea is that after several days of self-indulgence—which would often include a Thanksgiving feast, days off of work, and lots of spending—Giving Tuesday is a chance to use your resources selflessly.

When I began working on fundraising projects, I would often dread this time of year and the hectic (and sometimes annoying) campaigning that it brings. I knew that my clients’ appeals would most likely get lost in the avalanche of emails, social media posts, and phone calls that characterize Giving Tuesday. What was the point?

Why should Christians, many of whom already tithe or volunteer with their church, join the Tuesday craziness? Don’t we give enough? Isn’t it just a marketing ploy, anyway?

This year, however, I am working on one Giving Tuesday project that is very close to my heart. This non-profit creates multimedia Bible study tools which equip churches to include persons with intellectual disability.

I desperately want to see this organization reach their fundraising goal because I have seen firsthand the good that they do. And I know the leadership well; I respect their vision for the future. It’s enough to make me wonder if there’s more to Giving Tuesday than I originally thought.

Here are three reasons I’m choosing to participate this year:

 

Reason #1: To exercise my giving muscles

Have you ever heard it said that forgiveness is like a muscle in your body? “Exercising forgiveness” can be compared to exercising your body—the more you exert it, the stronger it gets and the easier the task becomes.

Giving is like that. The more we practice generosity, the easier and more natural it becomes.

A small step of faith—even if the amount you choose to give is very small—softens our hearts to be open to something bigger and better. God calls us to be people who are saturated in the habit of generosity—people who are full of kindness, goodness, and gentleness (see Galatians 5:22-23 for more on the fruit of the Spirit). And it doesn’t come naturally; we must practice and “do our exercises” with His help!

 

Reason #2: To make a difference

But we don’t just give for our own edification; we give because it truly makes a difference. This year I have seen the impact that even a small gift can make.

For the campaign I mentioned earlier, this non-profit client only needs to raise a few thousand dollars. It’s a big sum for one person, but if it were split among all the people on their mailing list, it would only amount to $2 per person. The price of a cheap cup of coffee. That doesn’t sound so bad, does it? What’s difficult is getting a few hundred people to believe that their small gift is meaningful.

Let me tell you that God can use anything—even $2, or two loaves of bread (remember the feeding of the five thousand in Matthew 14?). Paul writes to the Corinthians, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:12, emphasis added).

 

Reason #3: To express joyful gratitude

One of my favorite Christmas stories is Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Actually, it’s only a favorite because I know it so well; my dad watches two or three different versions of the play or movie every year without fail.

In the story, the character of old Mr. Scrooge is transformed from sour, cynical, and abrasive to giddy, hopeful, and kind. He has been given a second chance in life and sees how fortunate he truly is. Scrooge’s newfound joy is immediately translated into generosity—he showers gifts on his employee, generously tips the errand boy, and makes a large donation to a local charity. Why? Because joy is expressed in gratitude—especially when joy comes from knowing that you have been forgiven a great debt.

Friends, we have been forgiven a great debt through God’s son. Jesus told his disciples, “Freely you have received; freely give” (Matthew 10:8b). Generosity is a way for Christ-followers to gladly proclaim, “The Kingdom of heaven has come near!” (Matthew 10:7).

 

So… Giving Tuesday. It’s here. It may feel like too much, and perhaps you’ve vowed to stay offline all day just to avoid the appeals. But I encourage you to give it a try—a small gift, a generous gift, a joyful gift. It will make a difference in that organization. And it will make a difference in you.

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