With Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, there's another day to look forward to: Giving Tuesday. The day of giving back is today, Nov. 29, and it's a great way for people across the country to think about their communities and to help those they don't know. Since its inception 10 years ago, the movement has raised billions of dollars for nonprofit organizations across the spectrum, whether it's for at-risk youth, the environment or pet adoptions.
And while the money is incredibly significant, there are other ways to help besides giving cash: You can volunteer with a nonprofit, for example, or donate your old clothes to a shelter. You can even just be kind to your neighbor. If you're interested in giving back this holiday, here's what you can do for your community on #GivingTuesday.
Share your skills
Donating is always a great way to help out your community -- but it isn't just about money. You can also donate your skills and time, which is sometimes more helpful than simply writing a check. An accountant can offer to file a nonprofit organization's taxes for free. A doctor could lend their health care experience to help those that require medical attention. If you're particularly good at marketing and have a large social media following, you can fire out a tweet and help spread the word for a good cause.
No matter your skills, there's bound to be something you can offer to others. If you're unsure how you can help out, check out a website like Catchafire, which specializes in matching skilled volunteers with prospective organizations.
Donate money or essentials
If you don't have the time to donate your skills, you can always donate cash funds or goods to those in need. A great place to start is by donating canned foods, clothes, blankets and other essential items. Anything you offer is sure to be appreciated.
Call around to organizations you're interested in helping and see what they need. If it's an animal shelter, it'll likely need food for the animals or money to cover the costs of boarding. If it's a women's shelter, it will often need items like toiletries, clothing and food and may also accept items like unused makeup and magazines. You can even donate blood -- especially critical given the severe shortage.
Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community while also making a difference. It gives you the opportunity to meet new people, as well as gain new skills while doing something for a good cause.
If you're not sure where to start, a quick Google search for local nonprofits can help you find an organization of interest. You can also use VolunteerMatch to find volunteer opportunities in your town. Maybe it's helping out at an animal shelter, visiting with the elderly or planting trees for restoration. Anything you choose is a start to helping out those in need in your community.
Last, but not least, be kind to everyone you see and meet. Acts of kindness can include paying for the person next in line's coffee, giving a compliment or simply saying "thank you" to the people you appreciate.
You can also leave friendly notes in your neighbor's mailbox, especially during this time when it can be lonely at home. Offer to grab anything from the store if it's an elderly neighbor who can't make it out. A simple act of kindness lets someone know you care and that they're cared for.