It goes without saying that 2020 has been quite the year.

In fact, you’re probably sick of hearing things like “in these unprecedented times,” and “now more than ever,” just as much as I’m sick of typing them.

But, it’s true. We are in unprecedented times. And, now more than ever, small businesses and nonprofit organizations need our support.

That’s why we’ve pulled together this quick guide on how to support your community this Giving Tuesday (and beyond!)

But first… what is Giving Tuesday?

For those of you who work in the nonprofit sector, you likely already know all about #GivingTuesday. But for those who aren’t aware, it’s a national day of giving celebrated each year on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. This year, that is December 1, 2020.

Similar to Small Business Saturday, where consumers shop at their favorite small businesses, Giving Tuesday is a way to give back to your favorite organizations or causes.

How can I give back this Giving Tuesday?

When it comes to giving back on Giving Tuesday, most people immediately think of financial donations. But there are so many other ways for you to support your community this year.

Here are a few to consider:

By volunteering at a local shelter, food bank, or other nonprofit organization, you are directly supporting the cause. Volunteering allows you to make a difference in your community and even offers you the opportunity to develop new skills and become more aware of issues in your neighborhood.

While volunteering in 2020 may look a bit different than other years, there are still many ways you can get involved. Keep an eye out for virtual, remote opportunities to volunteer. There may also be local opportunities still available for essential services, provided you feel comfortable doing so and have taken the proper precautions to keep yourself and those around you safe.

VolunteerMatch is a great resource to find volunteer opportunities in your area. They even have opportunities specific to the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you do find that you have a bit of disposable income this year, consider donating a little — or a lot — to a cause that is near and dear to you. Nonprofit organizations and their employees work tirelessly year-round to educate others on the importance of their work. Your donation can help an animal shelter conduct a necessary surgery on an animal, provide additional meals to the food insecure in your area, fund the cure to a disease, and so, so much more.

Remember, money isn’t the only way to give back. But if you are in a position to do so, donating financially can truly make a difference in your community.

This time of the year, when we are all staying inside more due to the weather and maybe have a bit of extra time on our hands due to the holidays, is the best time to assess your belongings and see what you can do without.

For me, I try to stick to the “one in, one out” rule for my closet. If I buy a new shirt, I try to get rid of an old one that I haven’t worn in a while but is still in good condition. I know my grandmother employs a similar tactic with my little cousin’s toys — a new one comes in, an old one gets donated.

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, make sure to check with local shelters or organizations to see what they need and what they are accepting. Some shelters may not be accepting gently used donations at this time, but may be in need of things such as toiletries, food items, etc. instead.

Try to get your loved ones involved, too! The holidays are the perfect time to teach young ones the importance of giving back and bring some of that magic of the season to life. Consider organizing a virtual donation drive to collect goods to be donated.

I worked for a nonprofit a few years ago, and let me just say that the term “we wear many hats” doesn’t even begin to cover it. It was a seven-person team and we covered all aspects of the business, from marketing to programs, fundraising to HR and more.

As a result, nonprofits tend to get down to brass tacks, focusing on the essentials only. This means there is a lot of opportunity for you to jump in and fill in the gaps! Consider volunteering your skills, such as web design or event planning, to a local nonprofit to help them achieve their goals on a limited budget. Plus, you’ll feel great knowing that your work made a difference!

Be kind

This one is a great tip for every day of your life, not just Giving Tuesday. But the giving season can serve as a reminder to do little acts of kindness whenever you can.

Whether that’s holding the door for someone, paying for the order behind you in a drive-thru line, recognizing someone for their hard work or support, or even leaving a friendly note in a neighbor’s mailbox or on their car. We can all use kindness, especially after a year that has been so challenging. Find a way to let someone know they are not alone, even during this lonely time, and that you appreciate them.

Share, share, share

The easiest, yet still highly effective, way to give back to your community is by sharing the stories of those around you. You can share your favorite nonprofit organization’s posts on Facebook, Tweet a link to donate to a year-end fundraiser, or simply tell your story of how an organization has impacted your life or why it is so important to you.

By sharing your story, those around you may be inspired to share their own or give back in their own way. You’ll help in spreading awareness of the organization while also shedding light on the importance of the cause.

You don’t have to be a celebrity to use your platform for good.

Big or small, find a way to give back

You don’t have to donate money to make a difference in your community. Whether it’s a kind note to a neighbor, applying your skills and talents to help a nonprofit near you, or donating items to a local shelter, giving back will boost the success of your community — and your spirits!