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Season of giving

Social media movement encourages people to give back


Social media movement encourages people to give back

As shoppers prepare to dole out their hard-earned dollars in the name of outrageous savings this weekend, one initiative is calling consumers to set aside some of their holiday dough to giving back to their communities . The social media movement #GivingTuesday encourages spenders to donate time and money to nonprofits and charities on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

The local chapter of the #GivingTuesday movement, #LansingLoves #GivingTuesday, is encouraging Greater Lansing residents to participate in the growing tradition. The group is dedicated to promoting #GivingTuesday locally, providing literature to area businesses and individuals about how they can get involved. The group also provides many online resources on its website, including sample e-mails to send to donors and helpful links for those who want to get involved.

Heather Vida, one of the leading members of the #LansingLoves #GivingTuesday team and Hospice of Lansing’s director of fund development, jokingly refers to herself as the “self-proclaimed chair of the committee.”

“We’ve never really made positions,” she said. “#LansingLoves #GivingTuesday runs solely on a volunteer basis. We don’t even have a budget, really. Everything we do is on our own time.”

Vida and Robin Miner-Swartz, vice president of marketing and communication for the Capital Region Community Foundation, founded the group in 2014. They wanted #LansingLoves #GivingTuesday to include as many local nonprofits as possible and highlight the importance of community outreach and engagement.

“Many nonprofits have united as a result of this movement,” Vida said. “We really felt that reaching out to the community and showing support for giving back would inspire people to take action. Our committee believes that the work we do here in Lansing will increase the engagement and bring the movement to the next level.”

The group’s main focus during the 2015 campaign has been raising awareness in the community, but it is also working with the Michigan Nonprofit Association to create a statewide initiative for 2016. Vida said that 85 local nonprofits are participating in this year’s version of #LansingLoves #GivingTuesday, up from 70 last year.

The #GivingTuesday movement was founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y. The initiative has garnered global attention as a philanthropic alternative to commerce-driven movements like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

A few local businesses are dedicating resources to the cause. Old Town’s Elderly Instruments is hosting a ukulele class for beginners followed by a uke jam session and concert. All of the proceeds from Elderly’s ukulele and accessory sales on #GivingTuesday will go to Music Is The Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to funding music programs in area schools. The Firecracker Foundation is organizing two donation-based yoga sessions at Springhill Suites in Lansing to raise funds for its work with sexual trauma survivors. Vida also encourages participants to seek out local volunteer opportunities.

“Sometime giving is monetary, but sometimes giving is volunteering at the soup kitchen for a few hours,” she said. “Giving can be letting someone cross the street while you’re driving, or letting someone who’s in a hurry go before you in line for coffee.”

Residents can also get involved by promoting the campaign on social media. The unselfish selfie, or “#UNselfie,” encourages participants to share why they give by snapping a pic of themselves holding a custom-made sign and sharing it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

“The rising tide truly lifts all ships,” Vida said. “At the end of the day, if it helps someone in our community to be successful, we all win.”

Giving Tuesday

Tuesday, Dec. 1 lansinglovesgivingtuesday.com


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