Every year, there are stories about aggressive, sometimes deadly stampedes on Black Friday. Thanksgiving is theoretically a holiday about being thankful for what you have, but it’s also tied to rabid consumerism, with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday constantly promoting shopping.
After Thanksgiving and after all the sales, celebrate Giving Tuesday on Tue., Dec. 3. The day of giving back began in 2012 as a partnership between the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation and promotes donations worldwide. Its message of giving back has spread, encouraging donations (money, clothing, diapers, etc.) to charities and nonprofits. While there’s no wrong way to donate, some are more directly effective, and some organizations are more in need than others.
According to research by the Blackbaud Institute, a company that provides statistics on philanthropy, the biggest percentage of donations on Giving Tuesday goes to large organizations ($10 million or more in funding) and the smallest amount goes to small organizations (less than $1 million in funding). This makes sense, because larger organizations have more resources for marketing and greater name recognition, even if they are less immediately in need of resources than smaller organizations. But the report also indicates that Giving Tuesday donations to large organizations has decreased from 80% in 2012 to 56% in 2018, while giving to small organizations has increased from 5% to 15% in the same period (donations to medium-sized organizations have also increased).
If you want to give, but aren’t sure where (or don’t want to give, but know you should), we’ve compiled a collection of local organizations that help Pittsburghers in all different ways, from providing mentorship to refugees, to supplying tampons to teens.
Casa San Jose
The Latino community in Pittsburgh is growing, and organizations like Casa San Jose provide important tools and resources for navigating the city. It provides Spanish-language events, protects immigrants at risk of deportation, hosts a youth mentorship program, and offers emergency response services in the event of ICE detention. casasanjose.org
It’s no secret that it’s hard to make money in the journalism business. It’s a vital resource in any city, but there is little funding to pay for it. PublicSource is the only non-profit news organization in Pittsburgh, with a mission of public service through journalism. Through Dec. 31, donations will be matched by NewsMatch. (Note: Pittsburgh City Paper has a monthly partnership with PublicSource.) publicsource.org
Since Donald Trump’s election, dozens of refugee resettlement agencies across the country have shut down, including some in Pittsburgh. In 2017, refugee mentorship organization Hello Neighbor formed to pick up some of the slack. It matches refugee families with native Pittsburghers to help them with things like getting a library card, learning a bus route, and applying for jobs. helloneighbor.io
Having a menstrual cycle can be expensive, and for families struggling to make ends meet, pads, tampons, and other supplies often don’t make the cut. The team at SisterFriend collects sanitary supplies, as well as new bras and underwear to provide to shelters and schools. They also run menstrual health education programs for children and teens. SisterFriend accepts physical and financial donations. sisterfriend.org
A September report by the Gender Equity Commission explained how Pittsburgh is one of the worst places to live for Black women in terms of quality of life. This is undoubtedly even more true for Black trans women, which is what makes SisTers PGH a vital organization. Founded by Black trans women, the organization provides an array of resources, from groceries, to housing, to job searching. sisterspgh.org
Thomas Merton Center
Since its foundation in 1972, the Thomas Merton Center has been a stalwart social justice organization, fighting for equality on multiple fronts. There are over a dozen groups within the organization, working on everything from providing books to prisoners in Pennsylvania, to advocating for public transit. Donors receive a copy of TMC’s monthly newspaper, The NewPeople. thomasmertoncenter.org
Pennsylvania Innocence Project
There are innocent people locked up in prisons who are only freed because of the hard work done by organizations like the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, which provides free legal and investigative work to help release prisoners whose innocence can be factually proven. They also work on broader criminal justice reform that could prevent wrongful imprisonment from happening in the first place. innocenceprojectpa.org