What Is Giving Tuesday and When Is It?

It’s that time of the year. The weather is cooling down, leaves are changing color, coffee shops are stocking up on pumpkin spice and families are dreaming of turkey and pumpkin pie as Thanksgiving approaches. But while many people are familiar with Thanksgiving, not as many know about or celebrate the Tuesday after, also known as Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday, also called the National Day of Giving, is a holiday dedicated to encouraging acts of kindness in people around the world. Whether you donate to charity or surprise a loved one with a gift basket, there are endless ways to celebrate. Keep reading to find out more about Giving Tuesday, its history and how you can become a part of the global generosity movement. 

What Is Giving Tuesday?

two people cleaning street

Giving Tuesday is a holiday focused on celebrating and encouraging radical generosity. In a time where people are preoccupied with material consumption and holiday shopping, this national day of giving encourages people to engage in acts of kindness big and small. 

Whether you pay for the coffee of the person standing in line behind you, send a bouquet of flowers to someone you love or volunteer at your local homeless shelter, everyone has the capacity to put a smile on someone else’s face. That’s what Giving Tuesday is all about. 

When Is Giving Tuesday 2021?

Giving Tuesday 2021 falls on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Every year, the holiday is celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, meaning that it comes after Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In contrast to those holidays that focus on finding the best deals and buying the newest products, Giving Tuesday is meant to shift the focus toward acts of generosity. 

The History of Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday was first introduced in 2012 by New York cultural and community center 92nd Street Y in partnership with the United Nations Foundation. Originally, the idea was conceived in reaction to the consumerist holidays of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. What started as a humble idea quickly gained traction, becoming a worldwide phenomenon. 

The year it was founded, Giving Tuesday gained attention from journalists and executives from Mashable, The Washington Post and the L.A. Times. It’s estimated that in that same year, the holiday raised over $10 million in donations, a number that has only grown in the years since. In 2020, it was estimated that supporters of Giving Tuesday raised a stupendous $2.4 billion in the U.S. alone. 

Since its founding, Giving Tuesday has brought together businesses, nonprofits and philanthropists in a common mission to give back. While the idea was initially created by 92nd Street Y, Giving Tuesday split off and became an independent nonprofit foundation in 2019. Today, Giving Tuesday is more than just a holiday; it’s a generosity movement celebrated in 75 countries around the globe.

Why Is Generosity Important?

Oftentimes people don’t realize the overarching meaning of generosity. When you engage in an act of kindness, you positively impact yourself and others. With the simple act of holding the door open for someone at a restaurant or giving your friend a compliment, you can have a greater impact on the world one step at a time. 

Generosity’s Impact on Others

If you’ve ever heard of or witnessed first-hand a ‘pay it forward’ chain, you understand how contagious generosity can be. When you’re kind to another person, it inspires them to spread goodwill to others, who are then inspired the same way and so forth. Thus, it only takes a single act of kindness to create a ripple effect that impacts people around the globe.

Generosity’s Impact on Mental Health

When you engage in acts of kindness, not only can you put a smile on someone’s face, but you may also improve your own mental and physical health. Research has found that when you spend money on others rather than yourself, you feel happier. That said, next time you think about buying yourself a new pair of AirPods, consider sending a thoughtful gift to a friend or family member instead.

Giving Tuesday Ideas To Celebrate

volunteers handing out water

There are a variety of ways to observe Giving Tuesday. Since this holiday is about spreading generosity however you can, anything goes! For those who are unsure how to celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite ways to give back:

  • Donate to charity: If there’s a particular charity that means a lot to you, consider making a monetary donation. You can also donate food or clothes to either your local food bank, homeless shelter or foster care programs. Just be sure to do your research with tools like Charity Navigator to make sure you’re donating to an ethical charity.
  • Show gratitude: We can’t forget about those unsung heroes who have made a positive impact on our lives. Whether it’s a family member, your significant other or a kind-hearted friend, consider sending them a handwritten gratitude card. If you’re at a loss for words on what to write, include a thank you quote to express your appreciation.
  • Volunteer for a nonprofit: Making a difference doesn’t always require money. Sometimes, the best way to express generosity is through action. Use a tool like VolunteerMatch or DoSomething.org to find local nonprofits, food banks and homeless shelters where volunteer work is needed most. 
  • Spread the word: These days, everyone has the ability to make an impact with their voice. Spread the word about Giving Tuesday in person over Thanksgiving dinner or with #GivingTuesday on social media. Tell friends and family about the upcoming holiday and share your own plans to give back. You might even consider establishing your own Facebook fundraiser.
  • Engage in a random act of kindness: One of the best ways to celebrate Giving Tuesday is to make someone’s day with a random act of kindness. Maybe you pay for someone’s meal at a restaurant, buy a fall bouquet and hand out the flowers to strangers, spend quality time with Grandma or bring homemade cookies to your coworkers. 

Make this Giving Tuesday one to remember by doing something selfless. If you’re struggling to come up with an idea of how to celebrate, don’t overthink it! Whether you want to donate money, gift someone appreciation flowers, volunteer or engage in a random act of kindness, so long as you make an effort to give back, you’re on the right track.

thank you card