By Kenneth J. Souza
FALL RIVER, Mass. — While some eager shoppers will be shaking off the remnants of a Tryptophan-induced slumber to grab the hottest Christmas deals on Black Friday and still others will wait for the more leisurely benefits of surfing online during the subsequent Cyber Monday, ministries and apostolates in the Fall River Diocese are hoping to get some early gifts this year in the form of donations during a global effort known as “Giving Tuesday,” or #GivingTuesday in cyberspeak.
The diocesan Catholic Charities Appeal, Foundation to Advance Catholic Education, and The Anchor have all joined Giving Tuesday this year, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.
“I learned about Giving Tuesday at an international stewardship conference,” explained James Campbell, director of Development for the Fall River Diocese and head of the Catholic Charities Appeal and FACE. “The Diocese of New Orleans has spearheaded an effort they call ‘#IGiveCatholic,’ which has had enormous success. This year we are experimenting with this concept and we hope it catches on.”
Falling this year on November 29, Giving Tuesday is held annually on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and the widely-recognized shopping events of Black Friday and Cyber Monday to kick-off the holiday giving season and inspire people to collaborate in improving their local communities and to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support.
“While the Catholic Charities Appeal is conducted over two months in May and June, we thought this concept of eschewing the materialism that seems to overwhelm the Christmas season with an opportunity to think about our neighbors’ needs was an appropriate measure,” Campbell told The Anchor. “As for FACE, we have been fortunate to receive many gifts recently to ‘jump start’ our revitalization efforts (and) we hope many of our faithful will choose to join us in helping all our (diocesan) schools thrive.”
“At Christmas we often think about giving gifts to other people; sometimes we give a gift subscription to a friend or relative,” added Father Richard D. Wilson, executive editor of The Anchor. “By giving a charitable donation to The Anchor you are helping to defray the costs of putting together our paper, which helps thousands of people to receive it.
“So, your charitable donation is a gift of news and information to someone you may not even know. When we die we will find out how our prayers, sacrifices and good deeds affected other people, even people in other lands or other times. By making a donation to The Anchor you are helping someone else here locally.”
Launched by 92Y — a cultural center in New York City that, since 1874, has been bringing people together around its core values of community service and giving back — Giving Tuesday was created as a new way of linking individuals and causes to strengthen communities and encourage charitable giving.
Last year, more than 45,000 organizations in 71 countries came together to celebrate Giving Tuesday, helping to raise nearly $117 million online in the U.S. alone. Since its founding in 2012, Giving Tuesday has inspired giving around the world, resulting in greater donations, volunteer hours, and activities that bring about real change in communities.
“We have been incredibly inspired by the generosity in time, efforts and ideas that have brought our concept for a worldwide movement into reality,” said Henry Timms, founder of Giving Tuesday and executive director of 92Y. “As we embark on our fifth year of Giving Tuesday, we are encouraged by the early response from partners eager to continue making an impact in this global conversation.”
Giving Tuesday is a movement to celebrate and provide incentives to give and harnesses the collective power of a unique blend of partners — nonprofits, businesses and corporations as well as families and individuals — to transform how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. More importantly, Giving Tuesday inspires people to take collaborative action to improve their local communities, give back in better, smarter ways to the charities and causes they celebrate and help create a better world. Giving Tuesday also harnesses the power of social media to create a global moment dedicated to giving around the world.
“The Anchor is a great resource to the people of our diocese, as well as for its readership even beyond the diocesan boundaries,” Father Wilson said. “We often hear back at our offices about how a particular article in the paper generated a lot of interest in some event going on in the diocese. Organizers often thank us for helping to ‘spread the word’ so that their program might be a success.
“We also hear from other people about how much they enjoyed our coverage of some event which already happened in the diocese. Our coverage of Mother Dolores Hart’s visit to Holy Cross Family Ministries a while ago generated so much interest that Mother Dolores was invited back to the diocese to be the keynote speaker at the FACE dinner on November 17 in Westport. As editor, I was proud to hear our reporter’s article quoted at length at the dinner.
“People also enjoy the profiles we do of interesting people here in the diocese. I also get a lot of comments about how much people enjoy our various columnists. Some folks tell me that they cut out and save some columns to help remember what they learned from them.”
“The direct benefit of Giving Tuesday is to build awareness of all the good that is being done in the name of the Lord through our diocesan ministries and apostolates,” Campbell said. “We hope our schools and parishes will join us in spreading the word and encouraging charitable giving either through Catholic Charities, FACE or direct support to schools and parishes.”
Noting that 80 percent of the donations received on Giving Tuesday go to religious organizations, Campbell said he hopes the Fall River Diocese can likewise benefit from this global effort.
“I hope we can turn away from pure materialism this Christmas and replace it with charitable giving rooted in the celebration of Jesus’ birth,” he added.
So this year, instead of buying into the promotional trappings of retail marketing, why not consider translating those three inspirational gifts of the magi — gold, frankincense and myrrh — into donations earmarked for the diocesan Catholic Charities Appeal, Foundation to Advance Catholic Education, and The Anchor? They don’t require gift-wrapping and they will help keep vibrant services alive and well within the local Church throughout the year.
To learn more about Giving Tuesday participants or to join the celebration of giving, visit www.givingtuesday.org.
To make donations to diocesan ministries online, visit the following links:
— Catholic Charities Appeal: www.fallriverdiocesedonate.org/catholic-charities/
— The Anchor: www.anchornews.org.