“It is more blessed to give than to receive.” – Acts 20:35b 

Written by Rev. Brandon Durán

The day after Thanksgiving has long been the start of the holiday shopping season.  Black Friday first filled the 24-hour period with stores opening at 12:01 a.m. and has now gone beyond the borders of time and reached through the weekend.  Small Business Saturday is followed by Cyber Monday and consumerism runs rampant.

There were some who noticed this expanding trend and wondered about creating a different way.

About 10 years ago, Henry Timms, the Director of 92nd Street Y in New York, said, “All the days of the week are going to be taken, we should grab Tuesday.”  In 2012, the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation launched Giving Tuesday.  The idea was simple. After several days of big sales and rampant consumption, perhaps there would be an interest in giving back.

The founders were right.  Giving Tuesday went viral almost immediately.

In 2012, it’s estimated that approximately $10 million was donated to charity through Giving Tuesday fundraisers. The next year, it was $28 million.  In 2020, Giving Tuesday reported that the total giving in the US alone reached $2.47 billion.

Yet Giving Tuesday is about more than money.

Woodrow Rosenbaum, the data lead for Giving Tuesday, says, “Donating money is the most common behavior” that the Giving Tuesday team tracks, “but only donating money is the least common behavior.”  Most people who participate in Giving Tuesday make the world a better place in multiple ways.  They volunteer, they promote great non-profits, they get involved with their time and talent.

We know there is a link between gratitude, generosity, and happiness.  So let us continue the Thanksgiving spirit this Tuesday (and beyond) by blessing others.  And let us give thanks for the ways that God inspires us to create another path and find a life giving way.

This year for Giving Tuesday, the United Church of Christ (UCC) is raising funds to support climate justice through UCC’s Environmental Justice Ministries which is deeply engaged in answering our first calling as people of faith: caring for God’s creation.