It’s post Thanksgiving and we’re still in the giving mode, both charitable and commercial. Inundated with emails, mailers and advertising about Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Digital Monday and Giving Tuesday, we’re being encouraged to decide between big box stores and Amazon bargains or supporting our local retailers, being generous with our gift giving or with philanthropy and getting out of the house or shopping/giving entirely online.
According to McKinsey, the giving season started early this year with enthusiastic shoppers eager to make their purchases before shelves become bare because of supply chain issues. Consumers are less likely to be brand loyal this year because of what may or may not be in stock and while lots of attention has been paid to a return to the mall — pre Omicron — online shopping remains very popular.
Ironically, one of the reasons Giving Tuesday has become so successful is because for many it is the one day of the year they make a donation. The good news, shared by the Daily Item, is that charitable giving is up this year, which bodes well for Giving Tuesday 2021 to exceed the $2.47 billion raised in 2020.
An interesting interpretation of Giving Tuesday was experienced by MPRM team member Natalie. She went on a walk and a car pulled up next to her, the window was down and there was a woman saying “excuse me, excuse me” from the passenger seat while her husband was behind the wheel. She reached her arm out, said “It’s Giving Tuesday, Happy Holidays!” and handed her a $20 gift card to Starbucks. They had a stack of at least 20 cards in their hands and they were driving around handing them out. It was truly heartwarming and she felt lucky to be on the receiving end of it — not for the gift card, but to experience their random act of kindness firsthand.
Most of the rest of us participated in a more traditional manner with donations to a broad range of organizations, both local and national. And as it turns out, we’re not the typical one day givers. Many have set up monthly donations to organizations ranging from KCRW (on lots of lists) to Planned Parenthood, Color of Change and more. A few are more active. Caitlin has participated in a Habitat for Humanity build in her community and currently serves on the board of Culver City Arts Foundation, which supports various programs and artists of all kinds throughout Culver City. She has also worked with Baby2Baby which is a local LA non-profit supporting underserved mothers and children with all sorts of supplies from cribs to clothes to nursing supplies and diapers.
As an organization, we annually make donations on behalf of our clients to local charities that reflect the issues cared most about by our staff. This year the recipients will be Miry’s List, which is focused on welcoming refugees into our community, referred to us by Caitlin, and Safe Place for Youth (SPY), an organization focused on homeless youth. SPY was brought to our attention by Jacki whose mom has been volunteering with them since 2013 and then got Jacki involved.
As Jacki explains, homelessness is a really complex problem and giving homeless youth the tools they need to get back on their feet is imperative to being a part of the solution. There is a lot of stigma around this issue, but what people don’t realize is that these youth are often running FROM something not being “lazy” as most people think. A large percentage of them are escaping abuse at home or were kicked out by their parents for things outside of their control (for example, identifying as LGBTQ+, mental health issues, etc). They all need a safe way to get back on their feet and go their own way, and SPY offers lifesaving services that range from the basics such as medical care and food to job training and legal counsel.
After volunteering for a number of years, Jacki’s mom is actually now President of the Board and Jacki was one of the founding members of and serves on their Next Gen committee which helps activate people around her age to be involved in the cause through events, fundraisers, and other ways to generate funds and connections for the organization.
They’re actually now in the process of building a full access center with additional housing! When they first started volunteering they were running their operation out of a church. SPY continues to grow and expand their services to help support homeless youth and transition them into safe housing.
It’s a great story and one that MPRM is proud to share and support. We appreciate the work being done by national and global organizations but know that our contributions to community groups, especially those with whom there is a personal connection, will be far more meaningful. That’s why we’re committed to staying local.