I’ve been thinking a lot about the American Ethical Union’s participation with GivingTuesdayNow. In my efforts to understand how it’s supposed to work I went to the GivingTuesday website to see what the organizers were intending. They described the campaign as “a global generosity movement unleashing the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” I liked that quite a lot!

A bit of history: in 2012, the 92nd Street Y in New York and the United Nations Foundation introduced Giving Tuesday — the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving — with the hope that after several days of big sales and rampant consumption, there’d be interest in giving back. There was, and every year since the beginning has seen a substantial increase in giving. In 2019 they raised almost $2 billion dollars with the November campaign – pretty impressive for a one-day campaign.

GivingTuesdayNow is related to GivingTuesday (same organizers) though it is not meant to take its place. Rather, it’s an additional opportunity for people to demonstrate generosity and charity during the coronavirus crisis. With that in mind, I was curious how that would be pertinent to the American Ethical Union and our member Societies? It does seem that many, if not all, of our Societies have financial concerns and are probably experiencing a decline in donations. At the same time, there are many people who are in significantly greater need of financial help than is common for our members.

There was a lively discussion about GivingTuesdayNow at the AEU board meeting this past Saturday. If the AEU is to participate, what would our campaign look like and how would we manage it? Ultimately, the board agreed that the best way forward was to identify organizations that are providing direct assistance to vulnerable populations and to encourage our members and friends to give generously for that effort by making donations through our website. They also decided that it was important that the board lead the way with 100% participation of board members.

I had already been looking at organizations to support and recommended three:

  • Coronavirus Care Fund – a direct aid program of The National Domestic Workers Alliance (NDWA) that has been in operation since 2007 and “works for respect, recognition, and inclusion in labor protections for domestic workers, the majority of whom are immigrants and women of color.”
  • No Kid Hungry – a national campaign run by Share Our Strength, a nonprofit working to solve
    problems of hunger and poverty in the United States and around the world. Donations have gone toward providing emergency grant funding to schools and community groups across the country providing food to children during the pandemic. They also advocate for support for low-income families on Capitol Hill and with local governments.
  • National Revolving Bail Fund – a fund operated by the Bail Project provides free bail assistance to low-income individuals who are legally presumed innocent, and whom a judge has deemed eligible for release before trial contingent on paying bail.

Here’s the criteria I was using: each organization offers a national program, focuses on an under-reported/under-supported vulnerable population, provides direct aid to individuals, and has a decent reputation.

Those were my selections – now you get to decide! We will be sending out an invitation to participate in the GivingTuesdayNow campaign with recommendations on how to engage more people, and you can start by making your own donation through AEU’s GivingTuesdayNow form. The form will allow you to choose among the three organizations or select “AEU #GivingTuesdayNow” to have your donation evenly divided among all three. Either way, 100% of the donations will go directly to the selected charities.

You may wonder why you should give through the AEU rather than directly to the organization. My answer: why not do both by using our donation form? All of your donation will go to the intended charity and by pooling many donations you can actually reduce the charity’s fundraising costs since they will have fewer fundraising letters to send and a shorter mailing list to manage. Plus, by sharing that you have donated through the AEU with your friends and contacts you are calling attention to both the needs of the vulnerable people who will be receiving aid and to the values and ideals of Ethical Humanism.

So I hope you will choose to give generously and help our nation meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us, and that you will engage others, too. This is an opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to humanist values and help nudge society toward the ideals we cherish.

Wishing you well as you navigate the week ahead!
Bart Worden

Please note, this post originally appeared at aeu.org.