A little local support goes a long way

We can use generosity to do more good in our communities.


Giving Tuesday was on Nov. 28 this year, and it was a rough one. Rough, of course, is a relative term.

Giving Tuesday 2023 raised an estimated $3.1 billion in donations to nonprofits, according to Philanthropy.com. That's not chump change. In fact, it's a 15 percent increase from 2021 and a 25 percent increase from 2020. But it's just a 0.6 percent increase from 2022. And the number of donors, roughly 34 million Americans, decreased by 10 percent. 

That doesn't mean people closed their wallets. Over 200 million Americans, more than 60 percent of the population in the United States, shopped online or in person at stores over Thanksgiving, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday — aka "Cyber Week."

Adobe Analytics reports that all those people spent a record $9.8 billion for online Black Friday sales (a 7.5 percent increase from 2022) and $12.4 billion on Cyber Monday (a 9.6 annual increase). People are spending money. Or at least they're putting their purchases on a credit card. At the end of September, our nation's collective card balance was a whopping $1.08 trillion

This data proves the spending spirit is alive and well in America. A Deloitte survey also found that the average holiday shopper expects to spend $1,652 in 2023. But there is a difference between getting big bags of stuff at the mall and supporting a good cause to end social ills. 

We're not saying don't buy things, but buying an Apple watch in every color might be a bit excessive. And excess consumerism doesn't help society. Excess consumerism leads to pollution and waste. Excess consumerism stratifies social classes and creates more social ills. 

Consumerism is good for GDP growth. Rampant consumerism is bad for our health.

We have become a culture of consumers who can't stop consuming. Even though there are countless problems to solve — big and small, global and local — many people are driven to buy and own more stuff. We celebrate consumerism and the drive to buy and own more stuff. This creates more issues. 

How people choose to spend their money defines what we value. At this point, over half of America must value problems because excess consumerism creates more problems and social ills. It's a vicious cycle.

Excess consumerism doesn't have to keep winning. It's a thin line between vicious and virtuous.

Spending money isn't the issue. What the money is being spent on is. Too much money is being spent on frivolous, unnecessary things. We have to be more conscious of how we spend our money and ensure we give it to those who need it most. Some businesses or organizations need it more than others. If a cup is overfilled, we don't need to keep filling it up. 

We need a value shift. We need to remember what the spirit of giving means. We need to recalibrate our priorities and focus on what really matters. This shift begins at home, in our own communities. We need to value what can make our communities stronger. It is not just about money. It is about caring about the common good.

So how do we get more people in the giving spirit?

Support local businesses. Support means buying something. Support the local shop you always walk past. Support the community organization you've always heard about doing good work. Support the places that need the support the most and will benefit most from the support.

If you have a choice between a big company with huge annual profits and a small local business with low margins, choose local. Did you know if each of us spent $100 a year more on local businesses instead of chain stores, it would put an extra $3 million a year into our economy? Not only that, but it would create thousands more jobs every year.

Think global, act local, do good. 

This isn't a new message or a revolutionary idea. It isn't even a revelationary idea. But it is a message worth repeating this holiday season and every season.

We don't need a Tuesday after Thanksgiving to be the only day we think about giving. Every day of the week, every day of the year, is a good day to give. Give money, give time, give away what you no longer use. Give kindness, respect, and compassion to the underserved.

If more people see the value in giving, more people will start giving. If more people start giving, more people will give. We can create a ripple effect like a pebble dropped in a pond. The more (and larger) pebbles we drop, the bigger the ripple effect. 

Communities have the power to make waves with generosity. Those waves can move mountains. 

Before you know it, we will be celebrating excessive giving and solutions.

Eric Ortiz is a journalist and lives in the Wedge with his family. When he’s not community building, he’s the chief content officer for the Strong Mind Strong Body Foundation and writes bilingual children’s books with his kids. Their first book, “How the Zookalex Saved the Village,” is available in English and Spanish.


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