Live Every Day Like It's #GivingTuesday

Right now, many Americans are watching the heart-wrenching images from the Philippines and are inspired to give -- just as many of us gave in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, the tornadoes in Oklahoma and other disasters over the years. United Way is dedicated to fostering a culture of giving; we encourage people not just to open their wallets in times of crisis, but to see themselves as an integral part of lasting solutions for community change. On Tuesday, December 3, 2013, we invite you to join the second annual #GivingTuesday, an opportunity for all of us to come together and redefine what it really means "to give."

#GivingTuesday is more than a national day of giving; it's a growing movement of nearly 7,000 partners that includes nonprofits, private companies, youth, parents and other members of the community who are committed to making a difference. On this day, you will have the opportunity to write a check to a worthy cause if you so wish, but you can also give your time, your voice, your talents and your expertise. This day is also an opportunity to redefine giving as much more than an act of short-term charity for a few; when you give, you can become an essential part of long-term solutions that benefit everyone.

United Way and our partners focus on education, income and heath because these are the building blocks for a better quality life and a stronger community. This notion of mutual interdependence is particularly obvious to young people because they are the first generation to grow up in such a globalized world. The forces of globalization - social media chief among them -- are plugging us in, bringing us all a little closer and providing tools that instantly connect us to information, ideas and each other.

Thomas Friedman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and columnist, has said that globalization is creating "super-empowered individuals." We are focused on "Super-Empowered Communities," comprised of people and organizations creating positive change that builds opportunity for all.

We've seen what's possible when we bring together the passion, expertise and resources needed to get things done. We've seen what's possible in New York City, where people and organizations came together to improve the school attendance rates of more than 16,000 students. We've seen what's possible in Columbus, Ohio, where more than 10,000 children have received critical early screenings for hearing and vision problems, autism, developmental delays and other conditions that can impede a child's success in preschool and beyond.

United Way is proud of these community success stories, but we also firmly believe that the best is yet to come. We encourage you to be a part of a shared vision for a better future. We invite you to give, to advocate, to volunteer. That's what it means to LIVE UNITED, and that's the broader definition of giving at the heart of #GivingTuesday. This can be about more than one day, or even about more than an annual holiday tradition of philanthropy. This can be the beginning of an ongoing commitment - a watershed moment in which each of us reexamines the role we play in lifting up our communities.

What goal will you set for yourself and your community on #GivingTuesday? On Tuesday, December 3, you'll be connected to a number of great organizations and causes. You'll go to sleep that night feeling like you're a part of something greater than yourself. When you wake up on Wednesday morning, ask yourself if you're really ready to let that feeling go.