Season of giving, year of problems

Season of giving, year of problems

Henry Haley, news editor

The Christmas season usually is labeled as the “season of giving”, but why don’t we apply these virtuous efforts year-round? This season is the philanthropic high point for many, so why give once a year while these problems are year-round? Sus- tainable giving and steady resources are required for disasters and crises. We can not push forward in solving these issues if they only find support once a year.

This rally of philanthropic action is by no means a bad thing, but looking at the distribution of donations throughout the year, can change the perspective. Recent data for 2020 shows that December is responsible for 20% of all charitable contributions. If 1/5th of donations is during the holiday season, where are these donors in summer or spring?

December is a clear outlier for the total contributions and trumps any others within this calendar year. The holiday season is also traditionally a high consumer spending season for holiday presents and festive decorations. So while consumers are spending the most out of any other time of the year, they can also give the most. This makes me wonder, just why do we not see these high levels of donations during low-spending seasons. If we have enough to give when we consume the most, we should have enough to give when we spend least.

The noble act of a donation can be easily skewed with a alternative motive. Many do donate more during the Christmas season because of financial reasons. The use of tax deductions in the U.S. can be a keen motivator for many to write a check. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against tax deductions, but perhaps consider writing another contribution for the sake of charity in the month after.

Another motivator for giving during the holidays is particularly honorable, religious inspiration. Many different religions have important dates from November to December; that can bring people to a closer connection with their faith. When reinvigorated with their faith, many find it in their goodwill to donate. Yet, many of these religions outline good works and deeds as a year-round responsibility; this is something we don’t see in the numbers.

Financial contributions make up a considerable portion of giving. Offering one’s time is also an option for who lack financial options. The value assigned to volunteering in 2021 was $29.95 an hour, showing just how valuable labor capital is to a charity. When the holidays roll around, the number of hours that registered volunteers participate grows by 50%. Only 1 in 4 of these adults volunteer at other times of the year. Volunteering even in an unofficial capacity can supply missions and programs with labor resources to keep going. While some assignments or volunteering opportunities may not seem like a world-changing action, the step towards a better world, even a better you is enough.

So what are these problems that people face, what is the malady of our world? The usual suspects that plague our Earth are world hunger, disease, poverty, and war. When many see these they think, well that has been around forever, there is nothing that I can do to solve that. They are right, they can’t solve the problems on their own and most likely the problems will persist even after our lifetimes. So we must look at ourselves, and what we can control. We can control our thoughts, our actions, and our reactions to external events. And so our reaction to a catastrophe or an injustice is something that can be controlled. While donating to a world hunger program or volunteering at a homeless shelter may not seem like a transformative solution, it is still an effort forward.

When writing this there were ideas and flaws I saw within myself. I need to do more also, we all do. I will keep this to an opinion article and not sway into philosophy (too much), but there is a purpose given to us as humans. The fame you see in Holly-
wood fades, the money you hold will lose its value, and the items around you one day will be of no use. I believe that we are all called to, no matter what season, contribute to the whole of society. Seeking virtue, being virtuous in your actions and thoughts, and aiding the interest of others. We only have so many things that are worth our time, so don’t dismiss being an agent of virtue, a cosmopolitan of our communities set out in service of humanity.

New Year’s resolutions are once again coming around. Instead of wasting your resolution on a trivial goal that you won’t ever achieve because you lack determination and passion, choose to help. Write down on January first that you are going to spend X number of hours volunteering this year, or set aside a percentage of your income as a tithe to charity. There are ways that we can all contribute, and for more than two months out of the year.