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Giving Tuesday Now:
The Jumpstart We Need to Reimagine Giving

#GivingTuesdayNow is an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. It’s an opportunity to give back to communities in safe ways that allow for social connection; to support the critical work of the nonprofit sector; and perhaps more importantly, to redefine the role of business.

From New Delhi to New York, from Oakland to Auckland, the COVID-19 crisis has devastated the lives and livelihoods of communities across the globe — exposing how utterly vulnerable society is when deep-rooted systematic issues such as inequalities in race, gender, health, education and income are addressed with band-aid solutions. 

That’s why, particularly in times of crisis, the world needs nonprofits.

Nonprofits are social-centric by design — with the networks, procedures and solutions in place to ensure people’s needs are constantly met and social issues are consistently addressed. They act as a critical lifeline for women and girls, veterans, individuals with disabilities, LGBTQQIA+, and other groups that are all too often overlooked and underserved. 

Today, these organizations are on the frontline of the global crisis — ensuring that children from low-income families can learn remotely, vulnerable seniors have access to food, and healthcare workers are equipped with medical supplies and protective gear.  

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Yet the very nonprofits that society relies on are approaching an impending funding crisis, at a time when a majority of the issues they’re solving are being exacerbated by crises such as COVID-19. Our imminent challenges — climate change, social inequality and world hunger to name a few — disproportionately hurt low-income communities, but their effects ultimately hurt us all. While the business community suffers through the crisis, the nonprofits that are critical to the health and survival of people across the country are at risk of closing their doors permanently. 

In recent weeks, companies big and small have risen to the call, donating millions of dollars and proucts to support COVID-19 relief efforts — but, given the magnitude of the crisis, financial relief by the public sector alone cannot solve the vast challenges we currently face. Yet the model for corporate philanthropy as it stands runs the risk of depletion. The very companies that society is turning to for funding are also threatened by the pandemic.

We saw this during the last major crisis. During the Great Recession, corporate giving in the US fell by 4.5 percent — an indicator of what could come over the coming year. This is because the standard model for corporate charity is limited by financial constraints: A company determines its donation based on what’s left over after it’s conducted its key business operations. Unfortunately, this results in woefully inadequate contributions to support critical social causes, revealing just how fragile our charitable infrastructure is.  

What we need now is a new paradigm, one that delivers growth for business while at the same time creating a robust and sustainable funding stream to address the fallout from COVID-19 — and, going forward, future crises and systemic issues such as climate change, educational inequality, homelessness and the gaps in the delivery of healthcare, the seriousness of which have been highlighted by the current crisis.

Today, we celebrate #GivingTuesdayNow as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. It’s an opportunity to give back to communities in safe ways that allow for social connection and kindness even while practicing physical distancing, and celebrate and support the critical work of the nonprofit sector. 

But perhaps more importantly, it’s an opportunity for us to redefine the role of business. The birth of Giving Tuesday Now serves as an inflection point in the role companies play to address societal challenges. It’s time to ask ourselves: How can we redesign business models and rewire operations so that people in need are at the center of business — not just now, but every day? 

My company, Givewith, is taking steps to help corporations reimagine the way they give, because social challenges are proliferating — and the funding required to tackle them is, too. Now more than ever, we need to tap into new revenue streams to expand the total funding earmarked for nonprofits and their social impact initiatives. 

We have great faith in the ingenuity of the business community to problem-solve. Now, it’s time to ignite our innovative spirit to address social-centric challenges. It’s short-sighted to outline a path back to “business-as-usual.” Instead, we need a new business model that ensures that the pursuit of profit simultaneously advances the good of society. What we need are business models that embed social impact into everyday operations so that people’s needs are always addressed. 

We can no longer wait for times of acute uncertainty and desperation to support those in need. As we grieve this moment, we must realize that we have the power to make an impact, no matter how small it seems, and that’s precisely what #GivingTuesdayNow aims to do. Charitable giving can no longer be an afterthought, businesses must bring it to the forefront of their day-to-day operations. This is the only way for businesses to grow while also creating a robust and sustainable funding stream to address COVID-19, and other crises on the horizon. How the business community acts today will determine the quality of life for generations to come.