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More giving, less spending; a nationwide holiday season trend reflected in Madison area

The data from GivingTuesday analyzes Black Friday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday numbers.
Spending less, giving more; according to GivingTuesday, that’s the nationwide trend so far this season.
Published: Dec. 2, 2021 at 10:24 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 2, 2021 at 10:34 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Spending less, giving more; according to GivingTuesday, that’s the nationwide trend so far this season. The national dollar amounts are in, and they show Black Friday and Cyber Monday spending was lower this year than last. On Giving Tuesday though, a day dedicated to charity, donations went up. A Madison tax expert attributes a lot of the increased generosity to the lasting effects of the pandemic.

Even before you walk in to Metcalfe’s Market, you can hear the generosity in the form of bells ringing out for donations. Susan Rebello is a bell ringer who sees the spirit of giving when shoppers stop to donate what they can.

“It’s really nice that so many people are stopping,” says Rebello.

Generosity is found throughout the store. Madison shopper Marguerite Hill searches for some holiday goodies for her family. She also donates to non profits throughout the year.

“I like to be able to do things for other people,” says Hill.

Giving throughout the United States is up this year. Donations on GivingTuesday, the annual campaign that encourages generosity on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, rose by 9% this year, totaling $2.7 billion in the United States alone, according to organizers.

The donations top last year’s record, when American donors gave nearly $2.5 billion in the aftermath of the racial justice protests and amid growing needs brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another $503 million was raised on GivingTuesdayNow, a special giving day held in May 2020 to raise funds for pandemic needs.

The GivingTuesday organization, which promotes the giving day, said 35 million U.S. adults participated this Tuesday through various forms of generosity — including volunteering or donating goods — as the campaign marked its 10th year. Volunteering levels rose by 11% compared to last year, organizers said, while gifts of food and other items saw an 8% increase.

“That’s amazingly wonderful,” says Hill.

Hill attributes the rising numbers to the pandemic changing peoples’ priorities.

“With the pandemic and the world the way it is, I think people are starting to reassess. So it spurs them to give to people they don’t even know, essentially, instead of buying for their immediate family. I just think people are more concerned about people they never thought about before. People who are hungry, they’re kids aren’t going to get Christmas presents this year,” says Hill.

Tax expert and CPA Gordy Meicher from Meicher CPAs isn’t surprised by the increase in giving. He sees it in his numbers too after the pandemic took a major hit on businesses last year.

“Many of my small business clients in 2020, they did not have good years. But in 2021 they’re having better years than 2019. And because they couldn’t give the way they wanted to last year, they’re being more generous than I’ve seen in years,” says Meicher.

Meicher says this year in 2021, there is a bigger tax incentive to donate, too, than there was in 2020.

“It’s significantly better for businesses to donate this year,” says Meicher.

Meicher also says the decrease in spending on Black Friday and Cyber Monday could be due to pandemic caused inflation in everyday prices.

“I think what happened on Black Friday and Cyber Monday was a lot of people making less than $55,000 simply were getting squeezed by higher grocery and gasoline prices,” says Meicher.

No matter what you attribute the extra generosity to, givers like Hill suggest others check it out for themselves.

“If you can, no matter how small it is, even if its just your time, do it. Because you’ll be helping somebody or some people, and it’s also helping you.”

A Monona non profit organization is feeling the generosity from this past Giving Tuesday. Friends of San Damiano was incorporated as a 501(c)3 not for profit organization in July 2020 to “advance the use of the property known as San Damiano as a place for public recreation, interpretive programming, and peaceful reflection.” The Friends group is comprised of residents from Monona and beyond, all of whom share a strong commitment to and passion for the property.

On Giving Tuesday the group set out to raise $5,000 to restore the 10 acre lakefront on Lake Monona. Within the first few hours, the group met their goal. Monona Bank then stepped in to match that, and so their total raised to $10,000. But the generosity didn’t stop there.

“Right before we hit that, one individual and then shortly after that another individual, reached out and said hey, we see you seem to be very successful in this campaign and you are nearing your goal. Would you be interested in considering an anonymous gift? And I said certainly!” recounts Friends of San Damiano board member Andrew Kitslaar.

Here’s how that anonymous gift works. From now until December 31, 2021, every dollar donated to Friends of Dan Damiano will be matched up to $5,000. You can donate here.

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