On #GivingTuesday, Kiwis can give themselves both a congratulatory pat on the back and a gentle push to do more.
#GivingTuesday, on Tuesday November 27, is a global movement that celebrates giving of all kinds: philanthropy; volunteering; donation of goods; or lending your voice to a good cause.
It started seven years ago in America to counter consumerist days Black Friday and Cyber Monday, where retailers entice people to start their Christmas spending spree.
New Zealand is taking notice of #GivingTuesday, and I like to think that’s because giving is in our DNA. The Charities Aid Foundation’s World Giving Index ranks New Zealand third best for donating, volunteering and/or helping strangers.
That’s supported by statistics estimating New Zealanders donate an estimated $2.7 billion each year, and 1 in 2 Kiwis engage in volunteer work (either formally or helping someone from other households).
But despite the considerable giving effort, we’ve got unacceptable and entrenched social and environmental problems, like poverty, domestic violence and climate change. If these could be easily fixed, we would have sorted them by now.
So let’s pat ourselves on the back and view our current level of generosity as a solid basis to do better. And then turn a laser-like focus on how we get greater positive change in our tough problem areas. The easy – and partial – answer is ‘more’. People who can give more should, but it will never be enough by itself.
We need to give better. This means we need to challenge our giving habits and ask whether we can support in a way that has a bigger impact.
A lot of this is underway. Philanthropy New Zealand members evolve how and what they fund based on their ongoing learning of what works best. Many recipients of philanthropic money – community groups – change their operations and services to increase their effectiveness.
The Government’s social wellbeing approach sees it prioritise money to initiatives that address the causes and break cycles, on top of alleviating symptoms. Corporates are increasingly looking to the positive environmental and social impact they can have in the communities where they do business.
Then there’s the rise of social enterprise, with its focus on social or environmental purpose and financial sustainability.
As well as lovely spontaneous or ad hoc giving, we see much thoughtfulness by individuals about their giving. They’re asking questions about the organisations they donate to, using organised giving schemes, developing a relationship with their chosen charity, or following them on social media as a way to connect with their activities and impact.
In the problem areas, results are hard won and don’t occur overnight. Each sector needs to continue to be courageous, make mistakes and learn from them, invest in research, collaborate with each other and stay the course.
#GivingTuesday is a day for New Zealand to acknowledge the existing giving that makes life so much better for so many. This day is also a prompt to think about and act towards the massive challenge of how we can make life better for all.
Article by Sue McCabe
Sue McCabe is the incoming Chief Executive of Philanthropy NZ. Sue is looking forward to starting and leveraging PNZ members’ strength, knowledge and caring to collaborate with Government, corporates, the not-for-profit sector, social enterprise and the public on effective giving. Philanthropy New Zealand’s goal is a thoughtfully generous Aotearoa. Visit www.philanthropynz.org.nz to read more.
Sue is also a co-founder of not-for-profit the Community Comms Collective, and social enterprise The Good Registry. Read more about Sue here.