Every year, starting right around Halloween, we get bombarded with messages about hunger and the homeless. The temperatures are getting cooler, the days are getting longer, and I think people feel a little guilty about enjoying a decadent holiday season unless they give at least a little bit to someone who needs it.
By the time you get to this time of year, almost May, you don’t hear nearly as much about world hunger or the plight of the homeless. The temperatures are getting warmer, people are no longer stuck in front of their televisions or computers, and spring makes everything in the world seem a little better anyway. Assuming, that is, that you are in a position to enjoy it.
This same cycle of hyper-focus followed by forgetfulness occurs around tragic events like the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon. There is a short window of massive attention and focus on the victims and their families. Slowly, though, the camera trucks leave, the media coverage wanes, and it is assumed, I guess, that given enough time, the need for assistance dissipates like the news coverage. This, however, is of course not the truth.
Even though the weather is getting warmer and hearts may be getting lighter in some places, the need has not dissipated. If you want a reminder, just tune into the work that Mark Horvath is doing with InvisiblePeople.TV. Mark constantly shines the light on individuals who are homeless, and their anxiety and worries do not decrease as the length of days increases.
There are countless organizations that continue to need your help even if the press is not giving them a lot of attention at this particular moment.
The American Red Cross can always use blood donations. Doctors Without Borders, No Kid Hungry, UNICEF, and so many other great organizations can always use help. Their services are not seasonal. Their services do not begin and end as soon as the big event happens. They are always working to be prepared. They are always working to help others. It doesn’t matter if it’s July or December. Indeed, because so many people donate to good causes during the holiday season, organizations may sometimes find that they are in danger of experiencing shortages during other times in the year.
If you are reading this as a person who runs your own cause, make sure that you also avoid giving the impression that you only need contributions or volunteers during the holiday season. It is natural to ramp up our marketing efforts during that time period, but even more important is to remind people in the “off-season” of charitable giving that your cause still needs help.
Much of our society today is influenced by what the media does or does not cover. Social good should not be one of those things, but we are in danger of heading to that point. Don’t let giving become a holiday activity. There is always need, even on beautiful days when sadness seems improbable.