Across the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the helpers. People are sewing masks, 3D-printing PPE, setting up mutual aid funds, and more, rallying around the tremendous need the crisis has spurred. To inspire even more acts of generosity, and spread the word about the way people are coming together even as they’re physically apart, the nonprofit behind Giving Tuesday have announced a new global day of giving, #GivingTuesdayNow, on May 5.
Since 2012, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving has been a day focused on acts of generosity—from time spent volunteering to donations for nonprofits. On Giving Tuesday 2019, online charitable donations totaled a record high of $511 million.
“Giving Tuesday is always, since the beginning of it, really about human connection and strengthening communities, and that is exactly what’s needed now, when there’s fear and uncertainty and polarizing forces, and those things are threatening social as well as economic collapse, in addition to all the health uncertainty and fear,” says Asha Curran, CEO of GivingTuesday, the nonprofit behind the initiative.
The group began thinking about adding a new #GivingTuesday date about five weeks ago. It’s been a whirlwind, Curran says, but they knew the crisis called for an urgent response. People have already been helping, and #GivingTuesdayNow doesn’t negate those efforts many have already made. Rather, Curran says, it dedicates a time for people to give, and helps share ideas of how they can help during this difficult time.
“[Giving Tuesday] is experienced globally, just as this is experienced globally, and so there was a real parallel there from our perspective,” she says. “Giving Tuesday is a ritual people know how to participate in, and they know there are a million ways to participate. The response to it has been really extraordinary, not because that generosity wasn’t already bubbling up, but because it gives people a rallying moment, a focal point, and a moment to feel like we’re all in it together.”
With millions of Americans out of work, giving financially may not be feasible, even if they want to help. Curran wants to remind people that #GivingTuesday in general, and especially the May 5 #GivingTuesdayNow, isn’t only about monetary donations. “It’s not a fundraiser,” she says. “It’s a global generosity movement.” That could mean writing online reviews for small businesses or reaching out to elderly neighborhoods who might be lonely. The #GivingTuesdayNow website shares more ideas for how people can participate. Another tool on the site, Daily Generosity Alerts, will text you “small, really executable ideas every day,” Curran says.
Just as with the annual December Giving Tuesday, charities, businesses, and individuals have come up with special actions around the COVID-19 crisis. #NextGenGenerosity, a campaign launched by Keep Families Giving Foundation, has partnered with #GivingTuesdayNow to highlight acts of generosity by younger people. Curran also points to America’s Food Fund as an example of how organizations are coming together, rather than competing, to address urgent COVID-19 related needs. Launched by Leonardo DiCaprio and Laurene Powell Jobs, America’s Food Fund is a mix of organizations, individual philanthropists, and grassroots efforts to help feed low-income families, the elderly, children who rely on school meals, and those who have lost their jobs.
#GivingTuesdayNow on May 5 may look different than Giving Tuesdays of the past, where volunteers often pose together, smiling in group photos. But generosity through digital avenues is just as powerful and important, Curran says. “Right now is an existential time for nonprofits,” Curran says. “What they need is resource, resource of all kinds. . . . If people don’t have financial resource to give, then what we need to do is to loudly and proudly tell the story of why the nonprofit world is necessary always, and especially necessary now, in general, as a whole overarching story, because that will provide support and protection over the longer term.”