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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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#GivingTuesday aims to inspire people to think of others

Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels development associate Becky Duffey is trying to get Spokane involved in #GivingTuesday, which is in its third year nationally and continues to gain traction as a post-Thanksgiving day to give to community programs. (Colin Mulvany)
Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels development associate Becky Duffey is trying to get Spokane involved in #GivingTuesday, which is in its third year nationally and continues to gain traction as a post-Thanksgiving day to give to community programs. (Colin Mulvany)
Treva Lind Correspondent

After Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday comes #GivingTuesday, the latest addition to a post-Thanksgiving lineup that shifts the holiday focus from getting to giving through community philanthropy.

Some Spokane groups plan to mark Dec. 2 by encouraging people to pledge time and donations in support of specific community programs. The initiative includes a big social media push with people posting #unselfies, which are photos of individuals showing support for causes on Twitter or Facebook.

Nationwide, #GivingTuesday enters its third year after being founded in 2012 by New York’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. An event website said more than 10,000 organizations worldwide have joined the initiative bringing together charities, families, businesses and individuals to celebrate generosity and to give.

“GivingTuesday is to prove the holidays are about both giving and getting back,” said Becky Duffey, development associate at Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels. “It’s like changing gears from getting to giving as a shift from Black Friday and Cyber Monday.”

This is the first year that the Meals on Wheels program plans activities around the day. Duffey stumbled across #GivingTuesday while researching ways to increase year-end giving to cover the nonprofit’s expected $75,000 shortfall. It provides 800 meals a day mainly for homebound seniors, but donations are down significantly for 2014.

“We’re working with several partner businesses delivering gifts and sponsoring clients on Dec. 2,” Duffey said. “Our volunteers will be taking unselfies, and for the first time we’re doing text-to-donate around GivingTuesday.”

Duffey said people can donate by texting MEALS to the number 91999, for as little as the $3.50-per-meal cost. “That’s all it takes to feed a senior a hot meal for the day.”

The city of Spokane plans to offer a proclamation supporting #GivingTuesday in Spokane and a 12 Days of #GivingSpokane campaign, with online options at Spokanegives.org.

“This is our first effort at capturing the national GivingTuesday movement to make a local impact on Spokane,” city spokesman Brian Coddington said. “We’ll have 12 days of GivingSpokane by categories to give people options to get involved either by volunteering or donating.”

Communities In Schools of Spokane County is among local nonprofits that have an online #GivingTuesday campaign. The group’s goal is to raise $5,000 for its PrimeTime Mentoring program, which serves more than 250 students in 21 public schools. People also can sign up as mentors. The weekly program matches community members in one-on-one or group mentoring settings for students at risk of academic failure in Spokane and Cheney.

Second Harvest food bank also lists information on its website for Dec. 2 giving, and a countdown to the day.

Additional campaigns here include ones for Gonzaga University and Community Colleges of Spokane Foundation, which both have Web pages for #GivingTuesday. The CCS foundation said people can donate as little as $5 toward scholarships and support programs for students, or sign up to volunteer at fundraising events.

Duffey, with Meals on Wheels, said Spokane companies including Berg, Northwest Farm Credit Bureau and Horizon Credit Union plan to participate in activities that will support the program. She hopes the day’s spotlight brings in at least $30,000 in donations.

“We only receive about 20 percent back on meal costs,” Duffey said. “We need volunteer drivers, too.”

She said other cities nationwide with large, coordinated #GivingTuesday events have exceeded community goals.

“In 2013, Baltimore united 200 small businesses, individuals and corporations and their goal was to raise $5 million; they raised $5.6 million,” she said, adding that the initiative in Spokane is just starting.

“Studies show a lot of nonprofits get most of their donations at the end of the year,” Duffey said. “If we could raise a million (in Spokane), that would be awesome.”

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