Giving Tuesday, the benevolent antidote to consumerist Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday, challenges each one of us to donate to charities close to our heart at the beginning of the holiday season. The military community has a number of exceptionally worth organizations that need our help to continue providing help and services to those who need it most. And of course, there are organizations outside of the military community that provide so much to those, regardless of military affiliation, too.
Before you give, here are a few things to think about:
1. Do your research
The military community is packed with non-profits . . . and scams. Make sure that the organization you’re giving to is legit. Double-check with Charity Navigator, a website that keeps track of and scores non-profit organizations. (Charity Navigator also offers information on how efficiently non-profits use their donations, too.) Pay attention to your gut. And if you’re being solicited by organizations you’ve never heard of, do your homework before forking over your cash.
2. Make your impact larger
Many organizations are offering gift matching or other incentives so that each dollar you pony up makes a bigger difference. Charity Navigator is matching gifts up to $150,000, while the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is matching up to $2 million for donations raised through Facebook. (In fact, the American Military Partner Association and Esposas Militares Hispanas USA are both raising funds through Facebook today with the hopes of cashing in on some of those extra bucks.) Check your email or the websites of your favorite non-profits for other opportunities– if they have donors who are offering matching funds, they’ll be advertising it everywhere.
3. Give something else
Organizations don’t only need money, they need manpower, too. If your budget is tight or if you’re ready to venture beyond your checkbook, consider using today to research and commit to an organization that aligns closely to your interests. Not sure where to start? Blue Star Families is offering four concrete ways on this Giving Tuesday to make a difference in the community, all without opening your pocketbook.
4. Go beyond your comfort zone
Need a little inspiration? Challenge your family to find a unique non-profit that does great work but isn’t generally well known. Maybe it’s a local organization that provides mental health support to survivors of sexual assault, or a charity that offers backpacks full of food for children who may spend weekends alone without access to food. Maybe it’s your on-base spouse’s club that raises money for scholarships. Or an organization in your just-PCSed-there, new town that protects the local environment. Finding something new can open you to a completely new group of ideas and issues that you just may become passionate about.
5. Review the news
With such a fast news cycle, it’s easy to forget about the tragedies of 2017 and the support that is still needed. The hurricanes that ravaged the South and the Caribbean may be memories, but their effects will continue to linger and haunt residents for years to come. The survivors of wildfires in Wyoming, Montana, and California will also need long-term help. Then there are the continuously unfolding refugee crises around the world, the earthquake in Mexico, mass shootings in the US, the bombing in Manchester, and so many other heartbreaking and worthy causes that have a critical need this year.
By J.G. Noll