By Meg Clifford Poole:
Part of what we do every day here at Meridian is provide a window to the world of the best that the U.S. has to offer, but also an insight to the challenges and realities facing leaders, their peers. I am always struck at the end of an exchange program at how many participants comment that one of the strongest impressions they are taking home with them – regardless of their field – is the dynamic culture of philanthropy that exists here in the U.S. Yesterday that was exemplified by the growing tradition of #Giving Tuesday.
Now in its second year, Giving Tuesday reminds people of the true meaning of the holiday season – giving thanks and giving back. The growing phenomenon – which last year alone raised $10,000,000 for charity – not only calls on people to donate funds, but also commit their time and talent through volunteering. While it is too early to predict results from this year, all reports indicate that people are giving more and in different ways. Coincidentally this year, Giving Tuesday leads right into International Volunteer Day (IVD) – the UN-endorsed day to promote the power and potential of global volunteerism celebrated annually on December 5th.
Meridian’s Global Service Leaders (GSL) was launched in part to connect emerging leaders to innovation and momentum, like that provided in these movements. Meridian alumni and GSL members have jumped on the bandwagon and are embracing the campaigns in their own countries. In Spain, Cibervoluntarios marked Giving Tuesday by raising awareness and money via the Global Giving fundraising platform, supporting smaller organizations and teaching them how to leverage technical volunteering. In Bhubaneswar, India, the Bakul Foundation will rally volunteers on Thursday for IVD, this year to support ongoing volunteering and recovery efforts from the devastating cyclone. And one of my favorites, Catherine Franks and Children Helpers Worldwide, based in the UK, posted “UNselfies” following in the footsteps of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, to draw attention to the needs of global youth and their efforts to support the organizations who help them.
The next challenge – how to sustain the momentum. This is where leaders come in. I am proud and comforted to know that so many of the leaders that come through our doors are returning home inspired by ideas like these, as well as leaving their mark on the Americans they encounter.