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It Is Better To Give Than To Receive



In normal years, December is filled with celebrations, gatherings and gift exchanges that reflect the joy of the season. But even as COVID-19 is putting a damper on many of those plans, one of the most generous endeavors associated with this month continues unabated.

That’s good, old-fashioned charity, which is as much a feature of the season as colored lights and holiday music—and doesn’t require masks or social distancing. Charitable donations in December account for about a third of annual giving in the U.S., with 12% of the total donated at year-end, during the last three days of the month. In 2019, Americans gave nearly $450 billion to charity, 69% of which came from individuals.

The December tide of donations is crucial for nonprofit organizations. More than a quarter of them bring in as much as 26% to 50% of their annual revenues during the month. The subjects of the public’s largesse include religious, education and human services organizations, foundations, health organizations, organizations that benefit the public or society, and arts and cultural organizations, in that order.

To raise the profile of December as a charitable month—and to piggyback on the success of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday was introduced in 2012. Also known as the National Day of Giving, it is scheduled every year for the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, which this year falls on December 1. The goal is simply to encourage people across the world to be generous and do good.


In 2019, Giving Tuesday raised more than $500 million for American charitable organizations, including $511 online. While the pandemic may have an impact on 2020 donations, some organizations still predict Giving Tuesday contributions will reach more than $600 million.


But monetary donations aren’t the only way to give. Other ways to help include contributing non-perishable food items to a food pantry, donating gifts cards for Catholic Charities’ Holiday Outreach Program in DuPage County or providing new and unwrapped toys to DuPage County Toys for Tots, which distributed 74,809 toys to 24,156 kids in 2019. Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic is complicating this effort in 2020.

Closer to home, the Book Angel program at Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville places new books into the hands of disadvantaged area students. More than 2,000 children received books through the program last year. Patrons can purchase Book Angel books at a 10% discount or simply purchase a gift card the store will use toward that end.

The Salvation Army’s Red Kettle program, which last year was the beneficiary of a $1,600 gold coin deposited in a kettle outside a Naperville store, is preparing for a less generous 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19. The expected spike in online shopping and increased unemployment are expected to result in a 50% decrease in red kettle donations, the organization said.


In general, Baby Boomers and members of the Greatest Generation, have a well-established bent for charity, whether during December or any other time of the year. The Greatest Generation, including those aged 90 to over 100, comprises only 11.8% of the U.S. population, but represents 26% of total giving, with 88% of this cohort donating an average $1,367 to charitable organizations each year. Seventy-two percent of Baby Boomers, who account for 23.6% of the population, donate an average of $1,212 annually.


Clearly, millions of Americans embrace the holiday message that it is better to give than to receive. And what could be more heartening than to see that trend continue this season despite the pandemic.