June's story among millions of reasons to support Giving Tuesday

By Denis Moriarty, group managing director, Our Community

Most people are quite ready to give to those in need. It's not just that they're unselfish: the evidence is that giving makes you happier and improves your mental health, so even selfish people might want to indulge in a little philanthropy from time to time. And the people who already donate would probably be even happier if they gave a little more.

Giving helps people like June (not her real name, obviously), who lives in country Victoria. She's a disability pensioner, she's suffered family violence for a long time, and she's homeless - more specifically, houseless, living in her car on a small bush block while trying to go back to school and do her VCE. For $60,000, McAuley Community Services for Women can provide her with a small mobile home that she can live in forever.

Homelessness is a big, complicated problem. June's homelessness, on the other hand, is a small, one-off, completely fixable problem. Who wouldn't want to chip in? (If you do, go to https://tinyurl.com/helpjune). The bigger question is this: why don't more Australians chip in more often? And why, over time, are we giving (on the whole) less?

We're good people, but we do need to be prompted. Back in the day, the church collection plate was passed in front of us (and sometimes jiggled) once a week. Or the Project Compassion box was sent home from school or church to collect for the starving kids in Africa. (Not all of it reached Africa because I used to raid it occasionally to buy lollies - yes, my Catholic upbringing was destined to fail even at that early age.) We still need to be reminded and encouraged to give, and we still need social institutions that will nudge our collective elbow. Once a year, for example, many of us buy a poppy out the front of the supermarket for the RSL (or we did, before COVID). That's a visible large-scale nudge. What Australia needs is more and better nudges.

imageOur Community's Denis Moriarty

That's why we have Giving Tuesday on December 1. It's not easy to kick-start a new social custom, but we're giving it a massive go. Giving Tuesday is a day when many good causes ask for donations simultaneously, all together making a loud enough rallying cry to prompt people to look up from their own problems and turn their minds to, among other things, June's new home.

Giving Tuesday, apart from being a break from the great Australian tradition of naming all the days of the week after famous bushfires, is a reminder that Australian charities and community groups really appreciate your donations and your volunteering work and your interest, and they can do things with them that you wouldn't believe.

On Giving Tuesday last year, for example, the Ballet Theatre of Queensland campaigned for $10,000 for tutus; the Royal Melbourne Hospital Good Friday Appeal sought $100,000 for specialist equipment; Mecwacare looked for funds to bankroll therapeutic baby seal robots for dementia patients; and volunteers from Knitted Knockers Australia got the needles clicking to make knitted prosthetic breasts for cancer survivors. Something for everyone!

Giving Tuesday is a worldwide movement, and last year it raised about $700 million in 60 countries. The Australian operations are run from Our Community, my organisation, but we don't own it (or profit from it).

The money's important, of course, particularly in a year when a lot of people are suffering, but Giving Tuesday is also about getting people involved in giving in other ways, such as donating their time. Volunteering has taken a hit from the lockdowns - can't go out of an evening, can't share a meeting room, can't dance or sing - and we don't yet know whether it's going to come back without assistance. We're doing what we can online, but that's a work in progress. Again, it may need a nudge.

So: here's a nudge. Giving Tuesday. December the first. Give generously. Join up, join in. Put Giving Tuesday in your diary, this year and every year.

Oh, and June says thank you, from the bottom of her heart. Nudge nudge.

Donate now!

What Our Community thinks about other big issues

This commentary also appears as part of a monthly column series that is published in 160 rural and regional titles across Australia, from daily newspapers such as the Bendigo Advertiser and the Illwawarra Mercury, to weekly publications such as the Goulburn Post, the Cootamundra Herald and the Jimboomba Times.

We're proud to take a stand on progressive issues, which we're able to do as a social enterprise that's not tied to the purse strings of any government or corporate organisation.

Here's a taste of some other recent commentaries as they've appeared in some of those publications, as well as our own.

October 2020: Politicians must act now to fix fundraising

September 2020: Who is holding up the groups that support community?

August 2020: How to build hope for a post-COVID world: join up

June 2020: If more debt means fewer suicides, let's spend big

May 2020: For country towns to survive, some assembly is required

April 2020: Virus shows us that social change can happen, now

March 2020: Why we need to appoint a no-bullshit council

February 2020: Aussie citizenship test - it's just not cricket

February 2020: The future is now, and it's hot, dry and undeniably real

January 2020: Why it's time to rethink our MP numbers

December 2019: It's time for less spending and more giving

November 2019: The Joy of Giving - on Tuesday

October 2019: Ignoring the data is an invitation to disaster

September 2019: What is the Catholic Church teaching us about love?

August 2019: The Uluru statement: Why it's time for the Commonwealth to show some heart

July 2019: Why homelessness is worth this gamble

June 2019: After election, life and advocacy must go on

May 2019: Pokies reliance is a risk to RSLs

April 2019: Kids are teaching us the power of protest

March 2019: Work-life balance pulls us in three directions

Feb 2019: Australia Day honours: Why being rewarded for doing your job is un-Australian

Jan 2019: Why 2019 gives me reason for optimism

December 2018: It's time to stop blaming pollies and start getting active

November 2018: Community connection is an antidote to loneliness

September 2018: Good culture is the key to good communities

August 2018: Drought sees groups suffering in a sunburnt country

July 2018: Thai cave rescue shows that community bonds are our best insurance