For decades, Americans have wrestled with the balance of a Thanksgiving holiday centered around togetherness and gratitude coupled with a full-on sprint toward consumption as Christmas swings into full gear.
In more recent years, this sprint has turned into quite the marathon stretching over multiple days. Deal-seekers can find sales starting a week or more before Thanksgiving, and where Black Friday once stood alone, it’s now accompanied by Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
Even after a year during which a pandemic presented financial hardship for many, Adobe Analytics suggests that our expenditures continue to reflect our enthusiasm for spending around the Thanksgiving holiday, with shoppers spending nearly $9M this year on Black Friday alone.
But before your spending fatigue sets in, there’s one more day to engage your bank account: Giving Tuesday.
As the newest addition to this continuum of days following Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday officially began in 2012 and quickly ushered in a profound response. Last year $511M was donated and the day was mentioned over 20B times on social media. This year, giving is projected to exceed $600M. Six hundred million. Try to conceptualize that amount of money for a moment. It’s HUGE.
So as we arrive at the end of a weekend full of Thanksgiving leftovers and Christmas shopping, Kindred Exchange would like to provide Giving Tuesday guidance from our perspective. We believe that Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to do good, and we want to encourage you to participate!
As an entity itself, Giving Tuesday aims to be a “global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.”
GivingTuesday strives to build a world in which the catalytic power of generosity is at the heart of the society we build together, unlocking dignity, opportunity and equity around the globe. We believe that generosity leads to greater civic participation and other pro-social behaviors.
Much like the vision of Giving Tuesday, the heart behind Kindred Exchange is centered around the hope of partnering with those doing the work of unlocking and recognizing the identity of individuals, creating opportunity, and generating equity around the globe.
Our desire is to see a world that is more just, more generous, and more closely aligned with God’s heart for those who have been disenfranchised.
However, we must ask the question: What is the effectiveness of our charitable giving?
Over the years, the number of charitable organizations has continued to rise along with a growing mistrust in the machine of international aid.
Books like With Charity for All by Ken Stern, Aid at the Edge of Chaos by Ben Ramalingam, and Dead Aid by Dambisa Moyo suggest that the current organizational system of aid has become a complex network of rich individuals and rich governments giving to multicultural institutions, vertical funds, private NGOs, poor governments, and poor individuals.
Monitoring and measuring the effectiveness of such a convoluted system can feel exhausting at best, hopeless at worst. We won’t dive into the macro-level aid system today, but instead:
We’re thinking about most of us...the small donors that many grassroots organizations depend on to execute programming. What is our role in responsible charity?
We believe that our spending and giving has the power to affect the systems which carry out development projects around the globe. Our donor dollars really can make a positive or negative impact on societies abroad.
In light of this, we’ve condensed some big truths we believe to be important when engaging in cross-cultural work into five Sustainability Statements, each followed by guiding questions to help as you sift through where and how you may choose to invest.
Sustainability Statements for Guided Gifting:
1. Relationships are everything.
Does the organization’s verbiage suggest the desire for and implementation of authentic, committed relationships with those being reached?
Do interactions seem to be influenced by humility and deep value of the other?
Does it seem like those who are engaging in the work are choosing to intentionally honor individuals, the culture, and even the sovereignty of the nation in which they are working?
Do expatriates consider host nationals as their projects, or as people with whom they are willing to share life?
2. Healthy partnerships produce agency.
Does there seem to be a genuine partnership with a non-profit’s service community to collective solve issues?
Is the result of the organization’s work greater dependency on outside support or greater levels of agency for those it serves?
Is the organization’s work promoting truly equal social networks in target communities?
3. Sustainable solutions are complex and sophisticated.
Do their initiatives seem to be creating positive momentum toward a holistic solution
What is the end result of the organization’s engagement?
Is charitable work aimed at becoming sustained by the local community?
Are aid workers altruistic enough to engage focus populations during their daily activities?
4. Aid partnerships should be copowering.
Does there seem to be an intention to exchange learning across cross-cultural engagement?
Does the design of an organization’s solution require the organization’s presence forever?
Is there an intention for the target population to share ownership of the design and execution of the initiative?
Is the organization transferring wealth and knowledge resources to local leaders?
5. Transparency and accountability are telling.
How forthcoming is the organization with sharing where your money is going and how it is being used?
Is the organization open and welcoming to fiscal accountability? (Check out their score at https://www.charitynavigator.org/.
Does the organization provide you with such information themselves or do you have to search elsewhere?
Ultimately, we believe that generosity matters.
We believe that money alone will not eradicate the challenges facing our world, but that funds used through frameworks of empathy, authenticity and sustainability can create lasting good.
We hope that these statements and questions can be used as a helpful framework as you thoughtfully engage with and reevaluate the reasons why you are giving, the kinds of change you are wishing to contribute to, and the ways in which your money would be put to use.