I love Giving Tuesday. I suppose if I had to pick a third favorite “holiday” (behind New Year’s Eve and Halloween, of course), I’d pick Giving Tuesday. Having spent my entire professional career in the nonprofit industry and running The Smile Project (on the side) since age 17, Giving Tuesday can be a busy day. Yet each Tuesday morning-after-Thanksgiving, as my email floods with letters and stories from my favorite organizations, I feel nothing but an overwhelming sense of joy, pride, and peace.
There are people fighting for a better world.
This year, on Giving Tuesday, I’m asking for your support. I started The Smile Project in 2011 and have spent the last 9 years pouring my heart into this movement turned nonprofit. For the first 5 – 6 years, I covered all of our (very minimal) expenses and when we did do fundraisers in the early years (like t-shirt sales) we actually donated every penny we raised to other organizations.
As we’ve morphed and grown over the past 3,300 plus days, I find myself awestruck by the community we’ve blossomed into. To this day, The Smile Project is an entirely volunteer-led organization from yours truly to the SPARK club leaders to the ambassadors to the program managers to the mentors and everyone in between. Everyone is in this because they believe in joy. They believe in kindness. They believe in us.
I don’t want this blog to turn into a traditional fundraising pitch. We will send our monthly newsletter on Giving Tuesday (December 1) and include a link to donate on our Facebook page. And if you’d like to give, we’d be endlessly grateful. But right now, I want to share a few more ways you can support The Smile Project—and other nonprofits close to your heart—today.
Like, share, and comment. It costs absolutely nothing to forward an email to a friend, to retweet a photo, review a nonprofit’s social media page, or to comment on a video. Better yet, send the organization a message. Tell them that you love their work...tell them what it means to you. I know so many folks in this industry who work long hours for low (or no) pay simply because they love what they do and they love knowing they’re making a difference. But a little bit of acknowledgment goes a long way. Be their cheerleader.
Ask to help. As the founder of a scrappy nonprofit, I’m always bouncing with new ideas and initiatives I’d like to explore, grow, and uncover. When I open my Smile notebook, there are lists and arrows and paragraphs upon paragraphs of places I want to take this thing. But then there’s that tricky issue of time. If you are able, email or message a nonprofit you care about and see how you can volunteer your time. And, if you’re a college student, you may even be able to get internship credit!
Host a fundraiser. Though lemonade stands and bake sales are temporarily on hold, there are still plenty of ways to raise money for your favorite organization, the easiest, perhaps, being the Facebook fundraiser. You can create a page for a charity of your choice, talk about why they mean so much to you, and invite your friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues to join you in supporting them.
Here at Smile Project HQ, we feel really grateful. We get to work with the best people in the world every single day. If you’d like to learn more or support us on Giving Tuesday, please consider making a donation, purchasing merchandise, joining the ambassador program, engaging with our social media posts, hosting a fundraiser, or reaching out to volunteer. Every comment, story, review, and penny truly means the world.
One last note: I sat with the title of this blog for several minutes. At first it was “Why Giving Tuesday.” Then it was simple SEO-friendly iterations about “Supporting The Smile Project on #GivingTuesday” or “3 Totally Free Ways to Give Back to Your Favorite Nonprofits.” Finally, I landed on Celebrating.
Celebrating Giving Tuesday because that is what the day feels like to me—a celebration of folks coming together to recognize the hundreds of thousands of people who wake up every single day and put their all into this work with the hope that maybe, just maybe, some corner of the world will shine a little brighter as a result.