Detroit area nonprofits: Give giving day its due

Shawn D. Lewis
The Detroit News

Let’s put the give back in Thanksgiving.

That’s the message behind Giving Tuesday, a global day of charity and volunteerism whose growth is being fueled by social media.

For a fourth year, Metro Detroit nonprofits are among those using the hashtag #GivingTuesday on Twitter, Facebook and other social media platforms to encourage people to give money, time or both to help others on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Organizers of the national movement and participating charities are trying to piggyback on the string of retail “days” that have sprung up around Thanksgiving.

After giving thanks for the turkey Thursday, hitting up the big box stores on Black Friday, browsing on Small Business Saturday, and logging on for Cyber Monday deals, how about donating to one or more of the many Metro Detroit charitable organizations participating in Giving Tuesday on Dec. 1?

The international day of giving is tailor-made for Web-savvy millennials, who can donate from their electronic devices, and for those who simply would rather not leave the recliner.

Forgotten Harvest CEO Kirk Mayes says it is an opportunity for all to give, especially younger people who live online.

“Given its electronic origins with one of the founding partners, Mashable, a technology website, our younger people who are technologically propense and haven’t had an opportunity to experience the joys of giving are exposed to messages that might not have previously reached them,” he said. “Reception of Giving Tuesday has generally been positive, with a large number of organizations, including Google, Microsoft, Skype, Cisco joining in the effort as partners.”

Forgotten Harvest collects surplus prepared and perishable food (41 million pounds last year) and distributes it to emergency providers throughout Metro Detroit.

This year, Forgotten Harvest is partnering with MGM Grand Detroit in the casino’s Touching Communities-Touching Lives program, as is Gleaners. On Giving Tuesday, for every $20 donation made to either Gleaners or Forgotten Harvest, MGM Grand Detroit will provide a match of $20 up to $25,000.

Noreen Loper, 82, of Livonia, volunteers at Forgotten Harvest twice a week, every week.

“I just love it,” she said. “I’m a two-time cancer survivor — from breast and colon cancer — and after I retired, I just felt that I had been very blessed and it was time to give back. I’ve met a lot of really nice people there, and it keeps me busy.”

The Oak Park-based nonprofit, which has participated in Giving Tuesday since it started in 2012, is part of a charitable movement that’s gaining steam.

According to the Case Foundation, 27,000 partners in 68 countries participated in last year’s Giving Tuesday, raising $45.7 million, up nearly 63 percent from the year before; more than 30,000 partners will be part of this year’s campaign.

Giving Tuesday was created by 92nd Street Y — a New York City cultural center that gathers people for community service.

Metro Detroit charities plan a variety of activities for the global day of philanthropy.

Make-A-Wish Michigan, which has participated in Giving Tuesday since its inception, is using the event to spotlight some of the seriously ill young people waiting to have their wishes granted.

“On Giving Tuesday, we will share the wish journeys of wish kids Sunny, 8, who wishes to go to Atlantis to swim with dolphins and wish kid Ashley, 18, who wishes to go on a shopping spree to Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts and the Apple store,” spokeswoman Sherri Collins said. “We will ask people to donate to Make-A-Wish Michigan to help make more wishes like theirs come true for Michigan kids.”

The Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit, participating in Giving Tuesday for the first time, is offering three ways for contributors to get involved.

Givers can donate to one of five JCC scholarship funds, donate new, unopened and unwrapped toys through Monday and help wrap the presents for hospitalized children during a party at the West Bloomfield center from 3-6 p.m. Tuesday.

“Giving Tuesday is about encouraging philanthropy, celebrating generosity and supporting communities — elements that form the cornerstone of the JCC’s mission,” said spokesman Bret Hopman. “Because of this natural fit we felt it important and appropriate to participate.”

The Salvation Army will be seeking donations to fund food, shelter and other needs for the least-fortunate for a third straight Giving Tuesday. Donors can put cash in the charity’s red kettles outside stores, drop off toys, clothing and canned goods at Salvation Army community centers, or text SALMICH to 41444 to donate by smartphone.

“The Salvation Army of Metro Detroit encourages Metro Detroiters of all ages to participate in Giving Tuesday,” said Maj. Russ Sjögren, general secretary and Metro Detroit area commander for the Salvation Army’s eastern Michigan division. “It’s all about kindness and generosity — no matter how big or small — and making a stronger, personal commitment to give back to our community.”

Michigan Youth Arts, a Ferndale-based alliance of education associations, has been involved in Giving Tuesday for the past two years. Executive director Marianne Dorais said the global event is a way for smaller nonprofits to leverage the power of social media.

“A highly visible campaign such as Giving Tuesday helps democratize the fundraising process, while at the same time raising awareness of the need to support worthy causes,” she said.

To Dorais, Giving Tuesday isn’t just good for organizations like hers, it’s good for those who give, especially during a time of year when consumerism is so prominent.

“There’s an immense pressure on people at this time of year to purchase things, as evidenced by Black Friday and Cyber Monday,” she said. “While we all want to celebrate the holidays and recognize our loved ones, giving to charity allows both donors and nonprofits to create good in the world. We are actually encouraging our supporters to upload a selfless selfie (“unselfie”) to their Instagram or Twitter account and use the hashtags #GivingTuesday, #unselfie and #GiveToMIArtsEd, which will allow us to share their generosity.”

This will be the third year for The United Way of Michigan’s involvement in the day of giving. The charity is partnering with a crowdfunding website to seek donations for food and fun for children.

“This year, we’re teaming up with the CrowdRise platform’s Giving Tower to raise $25,000 so that we can add to new 10 new Meet Up and Eat Up sites, which can provide 30,000 more meals and healthy activities to kids in Greater Detroit,” said spokeswoman Valerie West.

The United Way also is using social media to promote the Giving Tuesday campaign.

“We’re kicking off the 10 reasons to give back on Giving Tuesday ... through Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter,” said West. “We’re using polls, memes, gifs and videos to encourage folks to give back. We want Giving Tuesday to be fun!

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