Give because You Want to, Not because You Have to

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November 28, 2022

It’s that time of the year again when we are encouraged to feel gratitude for everything we have so we can act with intention towards everything we can give. Started in 2012, Giving Day sprang from the idea of “doing good,” a heavily loaded term especially in the philanthropic and nonprofit sector. It is described as a moment of “global generosity” calling us to join collectively and contribute in small and large ways.

But what if we abandoned this one-time feel-good notion, and instead gave in meaningful, long-lasting ways?

At Thousand Currents, we have pondered deeply before about the futility of Giving Day and how it feeds into the consumerist culture of giving to feel good. Recent studies have also told us that the absence of a community-centered approach has encouraged organizations to ‘sit out’ and not participate in it altogether. It’s difficult, really, to take a black or white approach here. So perhaps it may be worthwhile to revisit why one should give.

Gif and illustration by Aishwarya Sadasivan


Give because you want to be part of the movement, not the moment.

Giving Day campaigns have a tendency to reduce a call to action to a single month, a single week, even a single email. Thousand Currents movement partners have taught us that systemic change takes time and resources. The work needs to continue for years, if not decades.

As supporters of this change, our role is to dream, build, resource, and accompany the groups who are working to make it. We encourage you to be part of the larger movement that is questioning the status quo, building alternate economies, rejecting false climate solutions, and advocating for food sovereignty, not just when social media tells you to, but all year-round. 

Give because you choose transformation over transaction.

#GivingDay has become an extension of conscious consumerism that begins with Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping sprees. It might be tempting to alleviate spending guilt with a one-time donation to your charity of choice, but the truth is that people and the planet will still be at risk long after your charitable transaction has been processed.

At Thousand Currents, we believe that giving can be a transformational act, not a transactional one. Our fundraising vision supports the notion that the person or people behind any financial contribution is as important as the donation. We believe that learning and educating ourselves about the most pressing issues of our time and finding creative ways to explore our skills, connections and privileges are critical to any dollars given.

Give because you believe in consistency.

Generosity is a valuable trait but it doesn’t serve a consistent purpose if it is limited to hashtag-able moments. Nothing was built in a day, and the scale of problems we face today cannot be solved through one big windfall — especially when Indigenous Peoples receive less than 1% of climate funding, as just one example.

Grassroots movements need our consistent and unwavering support to succeed. When you become a monthly donor or offer a multi-year commitment, you are paying attention to the issues that Thousand Currents movement partners are talking about, even when it doesn’t get mainstream spotlight. Let’s reimagine how movement work can succeed by responding with a long-term and committed display of support.

Give more than just money; let us earn your trust.

At Thousand Currents, we believe different people have different ways and methods of giving, but we do not stop there. We organize trainings, support giving circles, invest in building new future alternatives, collaborate to pool resources for grassroots climate activism and communicate regularly about the impact of your donation.

This means we are interested in more than just your valuable dollars. We are here to gain your trust in us, and in the grassroots movements we are proud to support. We are here for the long run.

Reach out  if you want to accompany Thousand Currents and are unable to give at this time of the year. Rest assured: you have not “missed the bus” if your support arrives another day or in another format. We will still be here long after Giving Day totals are tallied.

Deepa Ranganathan is the Editorial Manager at Thousand Currents. She likes to read, write, tell and listen stories everywhere she goes. Deepa Ranganathan