Liana Toscanini: Make statement on Giving Tuesday

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PITTSFIELD — I admit I have mixed feelings about Giving Tuesday, Dec. 3. We live in a place where people give all the time. The Berkshires must be one of the most philanthropic regions around. How else could we support over 1,000 nonprofit organizations? Because I live and work in this environment, Giving Tuesday seems like a made-up Hallmark holiday.

But then I remember the whole impetus for this national day of giving following Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Giving Tuesday has a rightful place in this line-up. Nonprofits hope to attract new donors on this day and many do. And some loyal donors will give online on Dec. 3 as well as via the remittance envelope in a nonprofit year-end fundraising appeal.

But for some, Giving Tuesday must seem excessive with all the simultaneous printed appeals in the mailbox. "Donor fatigue" is a real thing here. Some people get upwards of 50 or 100 Giving Tuesday emails in their in-box. Yikes!

According to the Giving Tuesday website, Giving Tuesday raised more than $400 million last year and is the biggest giving movement in the world. So what is the real reason to give on Giving Tuesday? For some donors, it might be to help their favorite nonprofits win a matching donation. Others just get caught up in the excitement of an entire day devoted to supporting mission-driven organizations. Still others respond to emotion-triggered campaigns or viral sensations. And personal asks from friends and family are hard to resist.

If we remember how it started, however, the reason for giving on that day becomes clear. Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation as a response to commercialization and consumerism in the post-Thanksgiving season. To me, Giving Tuesday is a way for all of us to make a very noticeable statement about what's really important to us.

If you want to do some research ahead of Giving Tuesday, pick up your free copy of the 4th annual Giving Back guide, distributed throughout the Berkshires during the months of November and December. The 176-page booklet is free because our sponsors and advertisers embrace the notion of giving back and want to help others to do the same. Find a Giving Back guide at your local coffee shop, bank, or other community gathering place, or download a copy at npcberkshires.org.

Liana Toscanini is founder and executive director, Nonprofit Center of the Berkshires.

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