Giving Tuesday and the opportunity to promote family philanthropy over the holidays
When Giving Tuesday was first launched in 2011, the intention was to give Black Friday shoppers a convenient way to give back after spending the previous days spending on a plethora of hyper-discounted consumer goods.
The day has since blossomed into a globally-recognized fundraising event (although it is still largely a U.S.-based phenomenon) with tens of millions of dollars raised to support any number of charities. It has attracted widespread support from everyone from average citizens to tech giants such as Facebook and powerhouse philanthropic organizations such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
But we think there’s an opportunity for philanthropists in Canada to take it a step further. Specifically, they can use days like Giving Tuesday as a springboard to engage the next generation in philanthropy over the holidays—and in the case of our donor clients, their Canada Gives Foundation account is the ideal platform for engagement.
We’ve written in the past about the many benefits of making philanthropy a family affair and days like this are a perfect reason to start down that path. Why?
Simply put, your children and grandchildren are likely highly engaged in all the buzz that surrounds Black Friday—after all, what young consumer wouldn’t jump at the chance to snag a cheap Playstation or designer winter coat?—but they may also be intent on supporting causes that interest them when they learn more about Giving Tuesday. With the festive season just around the corner, there’s no better time to get them thinking about charitable giving beyond this one-day event.
As so many of our Foundation clients have learned over the years, sometimes it takes the right spark to get the next generation motivated to make an impact.
Of course, this year philanthropy is more important than ever; the more cross-generational engagement we can muster, the better. Our sector has been battered by COVID-19 lockdowns and an overall retrenchment in charitable giving—although, as we’ve noted, that trend has not played out among our Canada Gives donor clients. Still, the coronavirus pandemic has prompted many well-off Canadians to remind their children why it’s important to be thankful for having so much at this time of year, particularly when so many are struggling to make ends meet.
We know of one Canada Gives Foundation account holder, for example, who was looking for ways to keep his kids occupied in this (hopefully late) stage of the pandemic. He also wanted to teach them the virtues of kindness and generosity. So, he tasked each with choosing a charity (or a few) to support and gave them both $100 to donate to their preferred causes. But first, they would need to write and present an essay at the family dinner table explaining their philanthropic decisions.
Don’t feel sorry for the kids—reports indicate they had a lot of fun making their arguments and can’t wait to make their donations.
It’s important to remember that the holidays present a wonderful opportunity to not only get the next generation in the philanthropic mindset, but to also bring families together (at least virtually this year) to decide where to grant funds from their Canada Gives Foundation account. We know of several families who mark either Thanksgiving or Christmas on their calendars as the date when they make strategic giving plans. Many invite everyone from grandparents to children and grandchildren (and sometimes extended family members) to get in on the philanthropic fun.
More than just a chance to give back, these are also opportunities to promote financial literacy amongst children, in some cases by giving them a small Foundation account to manage on their own (with an adult’s guidance and oversight, of course).
Case in point: Canada Gives Founder and CEO J. Denise Castonguay was recently invited to join a panel discussion—Smarter Giving—A How-to Webinar on Philanthropy—hosted by Newport Private Wealth. The discussion centred on the many ways that wealthy families can benefit from giving back. Terry Jackson, a retired financial executive, shared how he and his wife opened DAF accounts for each of their 16 children and grandchildren to instill an appreciation for philanthropy across the family. Their generosity not only set an example for the next generation, but an expectation that it should be continued in the years ahead.
So, this year, don’t merely view Giving Tuesday as a one-time event. Consider it the unofficial starting point for a much longer season of charitable giving.
The Canada Gives Team