Last year in the United States, according to the U.S. National Federation of Retailers, people spent more than US $13 billion at retail stores between Black Friday (a popular shopping day that takes place right after Thanksgiving) and Cyber Monday (the following Monday, when many retailers feature online deals). Consumer spending is an important part of any economy, but just imagine what that amount of money could do to solve societal problems that individuals and communities around the world face daily.
That’s the idea behind Giving Tuesday, which will take place on 29 November, the day after Cyber Monday. The annual event was established in 2012 by a coalition of nonprofit and philanthropic partners as a way to shift the focus from spending to giving. More than $116 million was donated last year to charities worldwide in a 24-hour period—an increase of 470 percent since the program’s first year. The Giving Tuesday movement has been driven in part by 1.3 million mentions on social media in 71 countries.
To celebrate Giving Tuesday, the IEEE Foundation, the organization’s philanthropic arm, has teamed up with five organizations to promote the event and raise money to fund technology-based solutions to societal issues. The five are the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.
Last year the IEEE Foundation raised $28,000; the six organizations together raised more than $73,000. The organizations aim to raise at least $125,000 this year collectively.
WHERE THE MONEY GOES
Working for the IEEE Foundation, I am proud to be part of an organization that is transforming lives. Every day, critical advances are made to enhance technology access, literacy, and education around the world. Donations go to several initiatives, including:
- Its grants program, which funds innovative IEEE projects that address challenges around the world
- The IEEE Power & Energy Society’s Scholarship Plus Initiative helps prepare the next generation of power engineers by offering work experience as well as $7,000 for school expenses for undergraduate engineering students
- The IEEE Smart Village program supports entrepreneurs in starting their own solar power companies to bring electricity to remote, off-grid communities
- EPICS in IEEE helps students solve challenges in their communities
- IEEE REACH brings engineering, technology, and history to life in preuniversity classrooms
These life-changing projects happen thanks to the thousands of IEEE members around the world who contribute to the Foundation each year—many of whom are choosing to do so on Giving Tuesday.
This year I challenge you to think about the impact of your donations. With more than 420,000 members, IEEE has the power to make an even bigger change around the world. By making your gift today, you are planting a seed for a bright future.
Can we change the world in only one day? Probably not. But in just one day, we can spark a change that energizes individuals and communities. And once that change is sparked, there is no limit to the impact we can make.
Visit the IEEE Foundation website to learn how to donate and get more information on the Foundation’s programs.
Richard Allen is a senior annual giving and data integrity specialist for the IEEE Foundation, in Piscataway, N.J.