Tim Costello urges Australians to reflect on ‘greedy’ pre-Christmas spending

Tim Costello has urged Australians to give more.

Tim Costello has urged Australians to give more. Photo: AAP

Instead of splashing their hard-earned cash on Black Friday specials, former World Vision chief Tim Costello is urging Australians to be less ‘greedy’ and donate to charity.

Coming off the back of the busiest retail time of the year, Giving Tuesday is a global movement that asks people to spend less on Black Friday sales and give more to their favourite charities.

“Really it’s just about giving. The generosity movement started in response to Black Friday, which started in the US and has spread rapidly, where billions are spent in a frenzy,” Mr Costello said.

“So that tsunami of greed is being hit by the movement that says ‘Let’s express how blessed we are, and it’s more blessed to give than receive’.”

Australia will be among the first countries to begin the wave of giving that will sweep the globe on Tuesday, which is set to raise nearly $600 million for good causes across 60 countries.

Mr Costello, now chair of the Community Council of Australia, said the growing support for Giving Tuesday in Australia represents people’s desire to make a “counter-cultural statement” against spending before Christmas.

Chaotic scenes as Black Friday kicks off in the US. Photo: Getty

“This is a magnificent response to consumerism and really pointless greed. We all have far too much stuff,” Mr Costello said.

“This is what we need, it’s a cultural antidote.

“I think the wealth to happiness stories, where the wealthier you are the happier you are, I think they’ve run their course.

“We have an epidemic of depression in Australia. We know those stories don’t work.” 

Much like Halloween, Australians have embraced Black Friday sales, with November now the nation’s biggest shopping month, thanks to the American import.

The name Black Friday was coined by policemen in the US, because of the violence and even deaths that occurred in the chaotic sales in the country.

Australians are expected to spend more than $1.3 billion in the sales that began last Friday and will finish today with Cyber Monday.

Mr Costello said that while spending might make us momentarily feel happier, it was more important to lead a meaningful life.

“More primary to happiness is meaning,” he said.

“And there’s meaning in saving a child’s life, building schools, immunising kids, or helping people with breast cancer. 

“We’re all fragile humans trying to get by. Happiness is a fickle thing, it ebbs and flows.”

Fundraising Institute Australia chief executive Katherine Raskob said the lead up to Christmas was a perfect time to think about what’s really important. 

“This campaign is about more than raising money,” Ms Raskob said.

“It’s also about encouraging philanthropy, volunteering, lending one’s voice and getting people to think about what’s really important at this time of year.

“It’s also a chance to make a statement that a modest gift can be transformative.”

The Good Friday Appeal – which raised $18 million this year in essential funds for the Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne – hopes to raise $100,000 on the day for a specialist microscope for kids needing neurosurgery.

In Brisbane, the Ballet Theatre of Queensland is seeking more than $10,000 to pay for tutus for an upcoming performance of Swan Lake; Mecwacare wants to bankroll baby seal robot therapists for dementia patients, and Knitted Knockers Australia, which produces knitted prosthetic breasts for cancer survivors, is set to get the needles clicking.

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