On #GivingTuesday, think United Methodist Church

In this season of giving gifts to family and friends, Giving Tuesday — Dec. 1 this year — affords us an opportunity to help those we may not even know and make a difference in their lives.

Now in its fourth year, Giving Tuesday is celebrated in the United States on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, encouraging participants to give back in impactful ways to the charities and causes they support. The movement is an alternative to the U.S. consumer-driven shopping traditions of Black Friday, Local Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.

Supporters are urged to spread the word about giving via social media by using the hashtag #GivingTuesday, including stories about why each mission opportunity is personally meaningful.

In 2014, more than $2.5 million was donated online to mission and ministries through The Advance on UMC #GivingTuesday. More than 770 projects and missionaries received more than 8,700 gifts. The response was global, with donors from 25 countries taking part. It brought thousands of United Methodists together on one day to transform the world.

This year, several  United Methodist agencies and ministries are participating in Giving Tuesday, offering United Methodists a variety of ways to contribute online to ministry. Here is a list of some opportunities to contribute through the denomination:

•The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry welcomes contributions to the scholarship funds it administers.

•United Methodist Communications welcomes gifts to communication and information technology for international development.

•Imagine No Malaria welcomes donations to help it reach its goal of raising $75 million to combat malaria. Recently, the initiative announced it had reached 90 percent of its goal. Imagine No Malaria offers resources that can be shared with

•The United Methodist Board of Discipleship welcomes donations to E-readers for theological education in Africa, Ebola prevention resources and the Wesley Pilgrimage.

•The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries welcomes giving to missionaries and the denomination's Advance designated-giving projects. Global Ministries will allocate matching funds up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online from midnight to 11:59 p.m. CST.

•The Society of St. Andrew welcomes gifts to its hunger ministry and will match every dollar donated with 10 pounds of potatoes, pledged by the ministry’s generous farmers. EndHunger.org

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