When #GivingTuesday was presented to us, we knew that an annual day dedicated to charitable causes was not only a great idea but something teens could run with. At DoSomething.org, when you turn 25, you're considered an old person (cue a jaw drop or a giggle). We trust that teens are not only capable but that they are the key to making major change in our world. We believe teens can rock causes they care about and they don't need money, adults or a car to do it. In fact, we require that every one of our cause campaigns be that simple. In order to participate in #GivingTuesday, we knew we had to address two realities and a misconception. The realities were these: billions of dollars were spent during Black Friday and Cyber Monday and we don't ever ask our teens for money. The misconception: teens don't care about volunteerism and giving back. So, we set out to combine all three into one kick-ass challenge that focuses on two leading aspects: teens are passionate and teens are wired.
Teens are passionate about bettering their world. In fact, according to the DoSomething.org national survey, 54.2 percent of young people volunteered in 2011. This is over double what the federal data suggests. Why is that? Because teens don't volunteer like they used to. Volunteering is currently defined as "work done through an organization for which there is no pay." To teens, volunteering is more social and goes beyond the traditional organization (such as clubs and groups, with their family and on their own). Last year, 2.2 million young people participated in our campaigns and 4,700 Do Something clubs have popped up across the country (that is one in three high schools!). These clubs have access to dedicated staff members that ensure they get the support they need.
If you don't believe me, check this out: After discussing the ins and outs of supply drives and how to support Hurricane Sandy victims, Nirali Shah (age 21) of Virginia, experienced the unexpected.
We are swamped with hundreds of donations. We received so many goods that we had to separate boxes into "Women's shirts" and "Men's hats"!... A parent even emailed us and asked if they could feature our club's drive in our local newspaper! Our community came together to make a difference and it felt great leading the effort.
Teens are wired. From social networks to texting at the speed of light, there is no doubt they are connected. But what isn't as obvious is that teens use their connectivity for good. Every 10 seconds DoSomething.org receives an incoming text message from its members. Not only do they want to get involved, but they want to be continually engaged with us. Imagine using all of the power in those fingertips for social good. It is possible, and DoSomething.org is working with teens to make it happen every day.
These two factors, passionate and wired, birthed the Pop (and Mom) Quiz. The quiz asks teens to challenge their parents (and other old people) on how much they really know about teen culture, technology and trends. The 5 question quiz comes with a little wager. For every question they get wrong they pledge to donate $10 to DoSomething.org. This test not only helps to support the clubs and campaigns (and more!) that teens care about, but it gives them an opportunity to discuss their volunteerism and passions with others.
While teens may not have the income to donate money to the organizations they love, they have the desire and the connectivity to support them in unexpected ways. This #GivingTuesday, we are not simply asking for a donation, we are sending a subtle reminder of the power teen voices and actions possess. They are ready and willing to take action. Are you?
You can take the quiz and share it with others at www.dosomething.org/givingtuesday
This blog is part of our #GivingTuesday series, produced by The Huffington Post and the teams at InterAction, 92nd Street Y, United Nations Foundation, and others. Following Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday -- which takes place for the first time on Tuesday, November 27 -- is a movement intended to open the holiday season on a philanthropic note. Go to www.givingtuesday.org to learn more and get involved.