Tuesday 2 December 2014


After the frenzy, the scuffles and injuries of ‘Black Friday’, a more benign American import hits today: ‘Giving Tuesday’. It's is an antidote to the excesses of pre-Christmas consumerism. It encourages people, charities and businesses to give time and money to help others, or to speak out for a good cause. ‎A chance to show the real spirit of Christmas - not shopping but giving.

The Charities Aid Foundation says we’re the sixth most generous country in the world. Our magnificent charitable tradition is one of our greatest unsung exports to the world. And CAF are to be congratulated for bringing this tradition here to the UK. ACEVO is proud to be one of the founding partners. 

Giving Tuesday was created in 2012 to help promote charities and their work. The idea is spreading around the world – to countries as far apart as Canada, Australia, Mexico, Israel and Singapore. In the UK more than 750 businesses, charities and organisations have signed up as partners. 

The day is an opportunity to make a donation, volunteer or join a charity campaign for a better world. People are even giving blood, or donating belongings to their local charity shop. Remember especially my favourites; Helen and Douglas  House Hospice!  Charity supporters are taking to Twitter to post #unselfie pictures using the #GivingTuesday hashtag to show support for their favourite causes.

Volunteering has for centuries been at the heart of Britain’s free society. It has sustained us through different ages of change. In the nineteenth century voluntary action abolished the slave trade and gave us such institutions as the NSPCC and the RSPCA.

Today, giving and volunteering support vital services like St John Ambulance, our lifeboats and our air ambulances.In the last few months the Disasters Emergency Committee has depended on the public’s generosity to combat Ebola. This Christmas, Crisis are looking for 9,000 volunteers to support  residential centres over 9 days, that help rough sleepers in need. Volunteering for charities like Crisis will help ensure the season of goodwill extends some of our society’s most vulnerable.

 ACEVO, brings together the leaders of some of our biggest charities and social enterprises. We are using the season to campaign for improvements to a national institution: the NHS. Well-led, professionally run charities and social enterprises are vital to relieving the acute pressure that cold weather puts on Accident and Emergency departments around the country. And as part of Giving Tuesday ACEVO is giving away some of its most widely used leadership tools online for free. 

Giving is about living a better life and creating a more generous, less individualistic culture. Voluntary action binds society together. Community groups, churches and mosques build community cohesion and inspire good works like food banks. All major world religions are great drivers of charity and volunteering. One of the five pillars of Islam is ‘zakat’, or almsgiving. Britain’s Muslim charities are under considerable pressure at the moment over their work on the ground in Syria. Up and down the UK we should use Giving Tuesday to rally round to support them. They do our country proud.

Indeed, I couldn’t put it better than St Paul’s first epistle to Timothy: “Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate.”

So what should you do today, to join in this national celebration? A small act of kindness is all it takes (though a larger one is even better). 

Or give to a local charity. Say yes to a charity fundraiser if they ask you on the street. An act of kindness to a stranger would be an excellent  example to set to others!

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