Today is #GivingTuesday, the wholesome response to the proliferation of spending “holidays” like Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Instead of buying more junk in a desperate attempt to fill the void within, today you are being asked to give back to the nonprofits in our community that make this place special.

Nonprofits are indispensable to the vitality and success of the North Coast. From rehabilitating injured wildlife (shoutout to the Humboldt Wildlife Care Center) to providing food to those that need it (thanks, Food for People!) to advancing environmental protection (a gratuitous mention of my own nonprofit, EPIC), nonprofits do the work that needs to be done. You probably interact with nonprofits and not even know it. If you have ever yelled yourself hoarse at a Humboldt Crabs game or taken an in-law for a cruise on the Madaket, you have benefitted from local nonprofits.

Right now is a challenging time for nonprofits. Stimulus money helped buoy many groups during the worst days of the pandemic. But a general economic malaise has donations down. While nonprofits are tightening our belts, even in the best of times there isn’t much fat on our bones. In lean times, our community relies on nonprofits more heavily. While nonprofits do more with less, inflation impacts us the same way it does you and the cost of serving our communities has increased too. If you are able, now’s an important time to donate to your favorite nonprofit. I, for one, am making a donation today to the Humboldt Animal Rescue Team in the memory of my recently departed cat, Little Foot.

Not only will your donation sustain the nonprofit institutions, but it will make you feel better than if you spent the money on yourself. Seriously, there is hard science to back this up. A 2006 peer-reviewed study utilized MRI imaging to see how our brains react to charitable giving. Giving triggers the reward center of the brain, resulting in reaction similar to other stimuli like food or sex, and a flush of dopamine and oxytocin released. Giving is also contagious. A 2010 study found that giving has a multiplier effect. You are more likely to inspire others to give. And it doesn’t end there. The correlation extends to three degrees of separation — your behavior can influence a third person’s behavior that you’ve never even met!

So give! Be bigger than yourself! And enjoy the blast of oxytocin that comes with supporting the nonprofits that make Humboldt great.


Tom Wheeler is the executive director of the Environmental Protection Information Center.