Think Globally, Act Locally

in Stateville News

Neighborhood change in the digital world

From the viewpoint of Brett Eckerman

A focus on giving back has been a part of the American experience from our beginnings, but the strategies and tools we use to achieve that value changes with each generation. The National Museum of American History has created an exhibit on American Philanthropy ( which offers a look back at many of the ways we have chosen over the years to express our desire to help our friends and neighbors during a time of need.

One recent addition to the mix is a global phenomenon called Giving Tuesday. This movement was started in 2012 as a joint project of the 92st YMCA of New York and the United Nations Foundation as a reaction to the growing commercialization of the holidays. They thought there might be an appetite for focusing on giving on the Tuesday following the Cyber Monday shopping frenzy, and that idea has proven to have wide appeal raising an estimated 503 million in online giving across the globe last year. 

That is a huge number, but to create a bit of context it accounts for less than 0.2% of the total amount of individual giving from 2019 in the US ( While it represents a small portion of the total giving that is done in our country, it represents a great opportunity for charities to expand their relationships with younger donors and bring in first-time givers who are looking for a way to make a difference. The sad part for local charities, however, is that they are often overshadowed by larger national or international brands that have a team of marketing experts and access to the latest Intel on how to beat the Facebook algorithms. 

How You Can Help

As we prepare for Giving Tuesday in 2020, I’d ask you to consider a few words popularized in 1915 by Patrick Geddes (and introduced to me as a bumper sticker on every third car as I grew up) as he worked to transform urban neighborhoods in decay: “Think Globally, Act Locally”. There are a ton of great local groups that work to make this community successful each and every day. At United Way of Iredell County we annually fund 21 of those groups, but we must interact with and periodically provide support to 40 or more. Pick one (or more) that you love and want to see grow and thrive in our community and consider making a special Giving Tuesday effort on their behalf.  Here are a few ways you might help: 

1) Make a personal financial contribution. The number one way to make a positive difference. To give through United Way of Iredell County or learn more about the agencies we fund, visit us at
2) Highlight the work being done by an agency on your social media feeds and help their message reach new folks. Facebook even has an easy and mostly painless way you can create your own fundraiser for any charity that has registered with them. 

3) Start a new family tradition and share your love of giving with your children or other family members. Lots of ways to make this fun and impactful. You can set a goal of doing one nice thing for a charity each month of the year and rotating who picks the group you’ll support that month; start a family giving fund by putting all your change each day into a jar and making that a gift at the end of the year; or collect food, toys or hygiene items to provide an agency the opportunity to share with their clients. 

Thank you for any and all of ways you exercise your philanthropic muscles on behalf of our community on Giving Tuesday and throughout the year. It is through this spirit of generosity that so much good work happens and so many hopes and dreams become reality. 

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