By Hans Dekker, president, The Community Foundation of New Jersey
The Thanksgiving leftovers hardly have time to cool before Americans turn their attention to the rapid succession of days that kick off the holiday season.
On Black Friday, we shop for bargains. On Small Business Saturday, we shop close to home. On Cyber Monday, we shop from the comfort of our couches. And on Giving Tuesday, we shift gears, remember what and why we celebrated the Thursday before, and make a gift to a charity of our choice.
For the Americans who participate in these unofficial festivities, it is all a bit dizzying.
It is why we at the Community Foundation of New Jersey encourage people across the state to not only give on Giving Tuesday (it is an important day for our state’s many nonprofits organizations) but also take a minute to think about the values, interests, and aspirations that drive them to give in the first place.
Why did you choose the local animal shelter for your gift? What do you hope the shelter does with these dollars? How would you like the shelter to better serve your community?
New Jerseyans ask and answer questions like these every day, driving new ideas and more diverse philanthropy. Every dollar of the $5.3 billion New Jerseyans gave in 2012 – roughly two percent of total adjusted gross income – was preceded by at least some thought as to what each donor hoped to accomplish.
In the 35 years we have helped New Jerseyans simplify their giving and amplify their impact, we continue to be struck by the many thoughtful, idea-driven philanthropists whose countless achievements have made our state measurably stronger.
Evidence of their work abounds. The man in Little Falls who saw a need and sponsored a pedestrian safety program in his downtown. The family whose endowment helped bring a handicap-accessible playground to Parsippany. The individual who wanted to do something about gun violence while avoiding politics and sponsored a buyback program in Asbury Park. The volunteers who went from one Meadowlands motel to the next raising awareness of human trafficking. The families who helped return horseshoe crabs to the Delaware Bay after Hurricane Sandy wiped out their habitat.
We hope good works like these, whether done in partnership with a community foundation (as these were) or not, serve as an inspiration to all New Jerseyans to not only give back, but also think about what types of positive changes they would like to see in their communities.
Giving Tuesday provides a quick and easy way to do that and we sincerely hope New Jerseyans participate. But if you wake up on Wednesday seeking to do a little bit more, our state’s community foundations and nonprofit organizations will be open, as they are every day, eager to work with any New Jerseyan seeking to make a positive difference.
Hans Dekker is President of the Community Foundation of New Jersey, which is based in Morris Township.