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A Glimpse Into the Philanthropy Giving Season in the United States

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Sharif Shamroukh
November 27, 2021

For every nation, there is a time of the year when people consider or designate a season for a certain phenomenon. When it comes to charitable giving in the United States, the fourth quarter of the calendar year is viewed as the season of giving. From this point, I would like to highlight the importance of the holiday season that we live today as a remarkable charitable giving season that all Americans celebrate and enjoy.

Throughout the fourth quarter of the year, there are days that people celebrate and spend a tremendous amount of time preparing for. They enjoy family time, from Halloween in October through Thanksgiving in November, and Christmas in December, ending with the first week of the new year. These main occasions create a sense of caring towards others, especially regarding family gatherings surrounding each event. Most importantly, Americans have celebrated those occasions regardless of their cultural or religious backgrounds for so many years. Despite the differences in cultural or religious backgrounds among the American social spectrum, people celebrate all these occasions as social or primary break times.

Since a decade ago, another occasion came into the spotlight of the holiday season to recognize charitable giving and encourage people to remember that others deserve attention and need support. This new momentous occasion, called Giving Tuesday, started in 2012 in the United States and spread across many other countries around the world. It became a global generosity movement to focus on giving to all charitable causes.

Giving Tuesday comes every year on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving Day in November and marks the highest giving day for charitable causes of the entire year. Also, since the intention of giving is purely for doing good, recently many organizations of different cultural and religious backgrounds have taken advantage of this day, prepared campaigns and providing various options to benefit from the generosity of Americans on this day.

Although charitable giving on Giving Tuesday inspires hundreds of millions of people to contribute in one day, charitable giving has never been limited to this day. People take the holiday season as a whole to do good, which means that there are plenty of ideas that people came up with to become part of the charitable giving season. This justifies the designation term for the holiday season as a charitable season, which opens the door to brainstorm new ideas to reach the goal of doing good. Such ideas could include reaching out to the elderly, giving a smile to others, spreading a good message, caring for homeless and less fortunate families or contributing to a cause that makes a positive change.

On the other side of individuals’ part in charitable giving, nonprofit organizations find golden opportunities during this season to get their resource development goals achieved. Therefore, one of the critical fundraising approaches that nonprofit organizations implement is Year-End giving. Nonprofit organizations establish strategic resource development plans, and organizations must reach their stated fundraising goals every year. During the last couple of months of the calendar year, nonprofit organizations increase their efforts to reach out, engage and follow up with prospects to meet their resource development goals. Based on research data, more than one-third of giving to charitable causes has occurred in December.

The question remains, why do people increase their donations during the holiday season, especially during the last month of the year? The answer to this question leads me to highlight the motive behind contributing to charitable causes in general. Donors tend to give to philanthropic causes for numerous reasons; one of those is related to the IRS tax regulations that encourage tax-payers to give to charitable causes and enjoy the benefits of tax deductions from their taxable income. Since every individual and corporation must follow the IRS tax filing requirements that deal with each calendar year separately, benefiting from tax-deductible regulations would convince individuals and corporations alike to increase their efforts to meet their goals on giving before the end of the last day of the year.

Although the IRS tax regulations form a strong reason for donors to give, giving to charitable causes also strengthens personal values, which highlights self-worthiness towards the surrounding communities and less fortunate people who count on the generosity of others. With the holiday season’s momentum, families come much closer together, feel loved and supported, and explore together while enjoying the holiday season’s vacation time. This type of momentum increases giving power, where people feel the importance of giving from their hearts. Although giving from the heart is not tied to a specific occasion or a special event, it is purely the time when you show that you genuinely care.

Let me stress that every little effort or giving has a positive impact on the lives of others, and no one should undermine their values since everyone has something to offer in order to make a positive social change.


Author: Dr. Sharif Shamroukh is a Senior Lecturer at the American Institute for Philanthropy Advancement, and frequently writes about various public policy issues. Also, Dr. Shamroukh provides consulting services to nonprofit organizations covering a wide range of topics that help achieve their missions.

Contact Dr. Shamroukh via e-mail: [email protected] or Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter @DrShamroukh

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

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