Courtesy of Ellen Su

On the Tuesday after Thanksgiving, New Haven organizations participated in a worldwide fundraising effort known as Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday is a “global generosity movement” that began with a viral hashtag in 2012, according to its website. The movement aims to inspire people to show kindness in various ways — including encouraging donations to local nonprofits and charities. This Giving Tuesday, New Haven nonprofits, projects and organizations participated with virtual fundraising efforts. The COVID-19 pandemic became a focus for many organizers as they raised funds for those in need. 

“Our goal for every #GivingTuesday is to ensure that people think to support their local community on this day of global giving and that they do so safely and securely, such as through a trusted online platform like giveGreater.org,” Community Foundation for Greater New Haven Director of Communications Patricia Bogie wrote in an email to the News. “This year in particular, we encourage donors to consider giving to their favorite nonprofits … especially nonprofits that work within local communities of color that have been disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to its website, the Community Foundation is New Haven’s “permanent charitable endowment.” It is home to approximately 1,000 charitable funds for nonprofit organizations, for-profit businesses and community members. 

Created and powered by the Community Foundation, giveGreater.org is a virtual portal for donors to give to local nonprofits that fall into eight searchable categories. These categories include arts and culture, economic success, environment and animals, children and youth, health and wellness, civic vitality and social justice, basic needs and education. 

Donors can use the tool year-round to learn more about local nonprofits, make donations and set up fundraising pages for specific organizations. The website serves as a free resource for local organizations to collect donations, and all funds raised through the website go directly to the donor’s choice. 

One of the organizations on the Community Foundation’s website is the Greater New Haven Cat Project. The Cat Project is an organization dedicated to humanely reducing the feral cat population in New Haven. The organization helps around 500 to 600 cats a year by carrying out spaying and neutering services. 

The Greater New Haven Cat Project (Photo courtesy of Ellen Su)

The money the Cat Project has raised from its collective fundraising efforts — including from donations on Giving Tuesday — go primarily towards offsetting the vet fees for their trap, neuter and return program, cost for food given by caregivers to feral cats and costs for their shelter.

“I think people are looking at Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and there’s a lot of money being spent,” Ellen Su, who is in charge of marketing for the Community Foundation, told the News. “I think Giving Tuesday is a nice alternative to that and a way to do that spending, but making sure the dollars are going towards a good cause.” 

This is the Cat Project’s third year participating in Giving Tuesday, according to Su. The organization ended up raising over $1,000 the first year they participated, she said, even without a large advertising push. 

Now, the organization mainly advertises the fundraiser through Facebook and Instagram, as well as through its newsletters. Su also stated that it was convenient that the fundraiser was entirely online — especially this year, when in-person fundraising events are challenging. 

The Cat Project set a goal for raising $1,000 this Giving Tuesday — but Su acknowledged donations may be more sparse due to the difficulties of the pandemic. However, as of Tuesday night, the Cat Project had raised over $2,000. 

Another local organization that participated in Giving Tuesday is the United Way of Greater New Haven. The organization serves 12 towns in the region, and aims to ensure that residents have enough financial stability to meet their basic needs. For Giving Tuesday, the organization raised money for a newly created program, Neighbors United, which provides direct financial assistance to families affected by the pandemic.

“We don’t have a monetary goal, but our hope is that we continue to give our residents and supporters a way to get involved and give back to the community that directly helps families in our region,” Mark Allegrini, senior director of marketing and engagement at United Way of Greater New Haven, told the News. 

The Yale Prison Education Initiative, or YPEI, at Dwight Hall at Yale is also providing a way for donors to get involved on Giving Tuesday and directly help incarcerated students in Connecticut prisons.

YPEI is a program that provides Yale College course credits and other educational services to incarcerated students across the state. YPEI is funded entirely through private grants and donations, and this Giving Tuesday, YPEI Founding Director Zelda Roland ’08 GRD ’16 wrote in an email to the News that “every contribution counts.” 

“We’re hoping, as ever, not just to raise funds so that we can keep operating, but also to bring a greater awareness to our communities about what YPEI does and what it has the potential to do, as well as the potential of students in prisons to be leaders and citizens,” Roland wrote in the email.

Roland said that despite having a “deeply limited budget,” the initiative had made an impact on incarcerated students. She said the money raised on Tuesday would continue that support “through the pandemic and beyond.” This includes purchasing materials like books, printing and mailing materials for correspondence-based programming and supporting incarcerated students who may be released.

YPEI Fellow, Minh Vu ’20 GRD ’26, emphasized the importance of donations from the Yale community to local New Haven organizations this Giving Tuesday. 

“As Yalies (students, faculty, and administrative staff), we are also implicated in these histories as people who move through New Haven daily and benefit from the labor of the city’s BIPOC organizers,” Vu wrote in an email to the News. “#GivingTuesday is a collective day to give thanks to the local organizations who work to build and sustain New Haven, though donating is only a starting point for holding ourselves, and more largely the university, accountable.”

Since Giving Tuesday was created in 2012, the movement has expanded to over 70 countries.

Zaporah Price | zaporah.price@yale.edu

Sai Rayala | sai.rayala@yale.edu

ZAPORAH PRICE
Zaporah W. Price covers Black communities at Yale and in New Haven. She previously served as a staff columnist. Originally from Chicago, she is a sophomore in Ezra Stiles College majoring in english with an intended concentration in creative writing.
SAI RAYALA
Sai Rayala writes about the climate and environmental efforts in New Haven. Originally from Powell, Ohio, she is a first-year in Timothy Dwight College planning to major in History.