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Where and why should I donate on Giving Tuesday?

Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are focused on purchasing for oneself, Giving Tuesday emerged as a way to encourage generosity to benefit the lives of others. Photo illustration by Mike DuBose, United Methodist Communications.
Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are focused on purchasing for oneself, Giving Tuesday emerged as a way to encourage generosity to benefit the lives of others. Photo illustration by Mike DuBose, United Methodist Communications.

Giving Tuesday emerged as a movement beginning in 2012 to encourage people all over the world to embrace generosity by giving to nonprofits whose work benefits the lives of others. Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which are focused on purchasing at the lowest possible cost for oneself, Giving Tuesday focuses on giving as much as possible to benefit the lives of others.

As the movement has grown over the years, an increasing number of nonprofits, including denominational agencies and local churches, have taken the occasion to promote special opportunities for giving on that day.

Ken Sloane, director for stewardship and generosity with Discipleship Ministries, offers suggestions for ways local churches may leverage this day in their own stewardship campaigns, and how United Methodists can make good decisions about other entities they may want to support.

Sloane notes that community-wide events are generally more successful at year-end fundraising than solo campaigns by churches. “I’ve heard great stories of churches and community nonprofits coming together to celebrate Giving Tuesday with businesses supporting the effort with special sales or food offerings. Funds are raised but even more valuable relationships grow and community assets are explored.”

He also notes that for Giving Tuesday, funding a specific project may generate more interest than using the day to fund the church budget. Choosing a specific project also helps set a goal for donations. And suggesting donation levels to support pieces of the project (such as $50 for 30 meals, or $100 for a table for a classroom) can help people feel more invested. Finally, he suggests, be sure to report on the Giving Tuesday results once the campaign is over, and to thank all donors, perhaps with a small gift or a handwritten note of appreciation.

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But what about giving beyond your local church? What questions might you want to consider in making your decisions?

Sloane suggests three: How well do I know the mission of this organization? What do I know about the leadership of this organization— their interests, their commitment and their diversity? And how transparent is this organization about its finances?

In previous years, the Global Ministries has been the leading focus of Giving Tuesday campaigns in The United Methodist Church. In collaboration with United Methodist Communications and its UMCGiving website, Global Ministries has sponsored not only a Giving Tuesday campaign, but an Advent-wide campaign (with logos already appearing throughout its website) focused on the themes of hope, love, joy and peace. Global Ministries posts its audited financial statements on its website. 

This year, you will also start to see Giving Tuesday appeals from other general agencies of The United Methodist Church, including United Methodist Communications. While apportionment giving has improved this year relative to last, the overall share of the work of general agencies that is supported by apportionment giving has continued to decline, requiring general agencies to develop additional revenue streams to maintain the level of work the denomination expects of them and to build resources for a sustainable future of faithful service. And all of them, including United Methodist Communications, are committed to their work of advancing the mission of the Church and to being fiscally accountable and transparent.

With Giving Tuesday coming up (Nov. 30, 2021), it’s not too soon for you and your congregation to think about how you might participate this year. And as the global sponsors of the Giving Tuesday movement would be quick to remind, your giving on this day is not intended to be a “one and done,” but rather to spur you on toward a lifestyle of generosity that blesses people so they can become a greater source of blessing worldwide.   
This content was produced by Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications.