Giving Tuesday: How local nonprofits need help this season

Today is Giving Tuesday.  A day that has become a movement of sorts – a positive, “pay-it-forward” response to the materialistic frenzy of Black Friday and Cyber Monday.  Giving Tuesday, in its simplest terms, is a way to help those who do not have the luxury to care when stores open on Black Friday because – no matter how good the “deals” – their money has to go to rent, or food, or heat.

So, today, what do people in our communities need?  We surveyed our nonprofit partner organizations to determine the biggest needs of those they serve, particularly those with families who are facing homelessness.  Here’s how nonprofit organizations across the region need help:

Educational resources for families:  From intensive, effective services such as newborn home visiting for new parents to play groups and activity kits, organizations need more funding to provide educational resources to low-income parents to help ensure young children develop healthy and on track for future learning child development, parenting and other resources to the parents of the children they are serving.  Research shows that the early years in a child’s development are critical to their ability to succeed in school.

Supportive services for homeless families and those at-risk of homelessness:  Limited resources prevent nonprofit staffs from being able to provide support to families in risk of losing their home beyond stop-gap measures to prevent immediate eviction or place a family in temporary housing.  Too often this means placing an entire family in a motel room.  Families who are homeless or at-risk of becoming homeless need resources that help with financial education, job training, and employment.   Getting a job and learning to budget their income is a proven path to financial stability.

Professional development for staff:  It may not be glittery or the first present you reach for under the tree, but professional development of nonprofit staff is critical to programs achieving successful outcomes for children and families.  The programs we surveyed cite both the need for professional development dollars and higher salaries for staff and case workers as a growing need this season.  Indeed, a recent study by Third Sector New England, funded by United Way, showed nonprofits need to invest more in their infrastructure and staffing to deliver the high quality services that funders demand and families deserve.

Today, please pay forward your blessings this holiday season and/or your savings from the recent retail store sales.  Please give to United Way.  Whether you live in Greater Boston, the South Shore, the Merrimack Valley, the North Shore, or the Greater Rochester or Seacoast regions of New Hampshire, our impact is 100% local.  And your gift will be combined with others to help where help is needed most.  Because together, we can do more than any of us can alone.