The idea of #GivingTuesday is simple - a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration. As someone who derives enormous pleasure in connecting with people on my social media platforms and who understands the great joy of being surrounded by an endlessly supportive online community, it will come as no surprise that #GivingTuesday holds a rather magical appeal to me.
My experience raising awareness about the global refugee crisis as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, has shown me over and over that the most simple idea often generates the most extraordinary results.
Last year for instance, Sara Benincasa reached out over social media with a simple and brilliantly silly proposition – would I give a dramatic reading of a heavily cheesecake orientated restaurant menu if people donated towards an ambitious fundraising target. My answer? Yes. Of course, yes. #NeilCake was born. Over the course of a few weeks the whispers about this madcap idea grew into a buzz – not just online but in the media too with coverage in Food and Wine, Buts, the LA Times, the Guardian and many other outlets too – and a staggering $112,000 was raised for UNHCR. We raised money, we spread the word about the refugee crisis, and we welcomed thousands of new supporters to the refugee cause. A triple triumph.
#GivingTuesday is another wonderfully simple idea with a seriousness of purpose. After we all emerge from the shopping frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday is a day to celebrate the values of service and encourage giving. #GivingTuesday gives us all the opportunity to unite together and take a moment to do good stuff for the causes about which we feel most passionate.
Super simple, and it works. In 2017, $274 million was raised for charities – nearly $100 million more than was raised in 2016.
I’m giving back to USA for UNHCR this #GivingTuesday because I think the refugee cause is one of the most defining issues of our time, and how we respond to those that have been forced to flee their homes speaks to very core of our own humanity. I’ve had the honor and opportunity to meet refugees and spend time with UNHCR in the field and I know firsthand the vital importance of our individual support. Our donations ensure children are properly cared for after experiencing unimaginable trauma. Our support is helping refugee parents feed their families, keeping them healthy and safe. Our gifts let refugees know they are not alone and we are here to give them hope for a brighter future.
Join me this #GivingTuesday. Give to USA for UNHCR and we can help change refugee lives together