Story at a glance

  • This is the first year of the #GivingTuesdayKids initiative, which was spearheaded by 12-year-old Khloe Thompson.
  • GivingTuesday partners brought in $400 million in 2018 through donations that averaged $105.
  • GivingTuesday allows grassroots organizations like My Block My Hood My City to raise thousands of dollars to help neighborhoods in need.

Khloe Thompson couldn’t get the homeless woman out of her mind. She saw her everyday on her way to school and would ask her mom, Alisha, why she didn’t have a house. Alisha tried to explain.

“It made me feel sad, like when you are sad about something and you just can’t move on from it,” says Thompson, who was 8 years old at the time. “I had never felt like that about anything before, so I knew that feeling was telling me I had to do something to help her.”

Thompson was learning to sew at the time, so she enlisted the help of her grandma, Betty Arnold, to help her make a tote bag. Thompson filled it with toiletries.

With the homemade tote in hand, Thompson walked up to the homeless woman with a smile and said, “Hi, I’m Khloe, what’s your name?”

Her name was Michelle, and she was the first recipient of a grassroots movement that has so far resulted in 5,000 bags given by the now 12-year-old Thompson through her philanthropy Khloe Kares.

“When I gave her the bag, my sadness was replaced with joy,” she says. “I knew I was doing the right thing. Handing out bags makes me feel better. I feel happy when I see someone have joy in the eyes and they smile.”

Thompson recalls another woman crying and hugging her after she gave her a bag.

“I asked her why she was crying, and she says that by talking to her I made her feel human,” Thompson says. “She says no one had made her feel like a human in a long time.”

Thompson — who plans on “double majoring in zoology and fashion” when she grows up — travels the world giving talks about her efforts to help homeless people. Now homeschooled, Thompson travels about twice a month.

Launching GivingTuesday Kids

When Thompson heard about the GivingTuesdayshe inquired as to why they didn’t have resources for kids.

The answer was simple: No one had asked.

So Thompson and GivingTuesday teamed up to launch #GivingTuesdayKids as a way to provide inspiration and resources for youth to make differences in their own communities.

“I saw that GivingTuesday was a big movement for people to give, so I wanted to be part of it and get involved,” Thompson says. The organization’s platform could help her, and other kids, get the word out about the changes they are trying to make in the world.

“I think it’s harder to [do] this because I’m a kid,” she says. “People don’t believe in kids, but as a kid I can do so much more. I have time to do it, dedication, passion.”

GivingTuesday’s rapid growth

The GivingTuesday initiative — which takes place Dec. 3 this year — was cofounded by Henry Timms and Asha Curran, who is now the CEO of the newly independent organization. They launched the idea in 2012 while Timms was working at the 92nd Street Y in New York. They saw an opportunity to harness the energy generated by Black Friday and Cyber Monday and funnel it into a time to give to others.

The initiative is a platform for nonprofits and charities to get their word out and raise money for their causes.

My Block My City My Hood, a Chicago-based grassroots movement, is an example. The movement, led by Jahmal Cole, decorates houses and light poles for Christmas along Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in the city’s south end.

Cole says Christmas lights are a small thing that can make a big difference.

This year, the group plans to decorate 250 houses with Christmas lights in this otherwise dismal part of town. It costs about $60,000. Last year the team decorated 100 homes.

The idea is to inspire the local kids so they can see Christmas lights instead of police helicopter lights, Cole says.

“I’m not joking about that,” he says. “These kids live in neighborhoods where they don’t know anyone who has graduated from college, but they know someone who has been murdered. They’ve been to 15 funerals by the time they are in ninth grade.”

It’s about interrupting the trauma local kids deal with everyday, Cole says.

“The holidays are a time to showcase humanity and inspiring hope in youth,” he says.

GivingTuesday’s worldwide platform connects donors with charitable causes, and also connects changemakers from throughout the country. Cole says GivingTuesday helps groups like his raise money and connect with others.

“There are a lot of Martin Luther King, Jr. Drives,” Cole says. “Through this, people can see what we are doing and copy it in their own communities.”

Large and small donors

Ultimately, GivingTuesday has turned into a clearinghouse for changemakers to connect and donors big and small to find organizations to which a person can donate. The initiative provides resources and puts these otherwise local grassroots movements on the global stage.

Last year, GivingTuesday partners raised $400 million through donations that averaged about $105. The information is mostly spread through social media, where the organization has had 14.2 billion impressions.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provides leadership support and several other large corporations contribute as well.

“We bring the community leaders and global leaders together in person, face-to-face,” says Jamie McDonald, GivingTuesday’s chief strategy officer. “We aren’t the brains of the movement, we are the heart of it. We bring people together, support them and allow them to cross-pollinate by sharing their activities with others.”

What started with ideas to help in cities and states, spread to higher education, elementary schools and now includes movements around the world.

“We are all surprised by this growth every day,” McDonald says. “It’s idea after idea. This movement keeps being fed by new ideas.”

Update: This story was updated on December 10 with additional information about the founding of GivingTuesday.

Published on Dec 03, 2019