Giving Tuesday File

Good Samaritan Inn Executive Director the Rev. Stacey Brohard, facing right, and advancement coordinator Julie Lakshmanan talk with visitors at their table during the Giving Tuesday event at First United Methodist Church in Decatur in 2016.

First there was “Black Friday,” then “Small Business Saturday,” then “Cyber Monday.”

Now we have “Giving Tuesday,” a humanitarian effort launched six years ago to support charitable and philanthropic efforts. It started as a project of the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan and took off, fueled by social media.

Last year, the movement had 2.4 million mentions on social media, 85 community partnerships and $177 million in online donations.

It’s a good and worthy initiative – one that has been picked up in Illinois. Forefront, a group of nonprofit organizations in our state, started #ILGive and last year raised $11.3 million for charities.

As reported in Tuesday’s Herald & Review, local nonprofit groups had a “Giving Tuesday” event at First United Methodist Church to talk with prospective donors. It was the 2015 brainchild of Jennifer Horton-Motter, who runs children and family ministries for the church. Last year, $18,000 was brought in.

Such a response shows something too often overlooked in this era of so much unrest and division – that people are looking out for one another. We are a generous group with big hearts. We come from a good place.

A study by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found 55.5 percent of all U.S. households gave to charity in 2014. Average donation per household: $2,514.

That’s a lot of money when you think about it, and even more impressive considering many would like to give much more but can’t.

Why give? There are plenty of reasons we do it. There are the practical motives (like getting a tax write-off) to the social ones (like not feeling guilty) to the religious purposes (to tithe is a central part of many faiths). But the best reason is that it feels good. It feels good to give back, to help others, to provide a hand.

We see that again and again when donors spring into action following natural disasters like hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria. We see it in our own community following fires or for food drives. We see it every day if you look.

How can you help?

Go to givingtuesday.org to search groups and find out how money is spent.

Every little bit helps, even if it’s not Giving Tuesday.

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