Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Giving Tuesday Launches Holiday Donations, Community Building

Head to The NonProfit Times' website for the full version of this article on Giving Tuesday

DoSomething in New York City sent an email to its mostly youthful members and supporters asking that they get their parents or anyone older than age 25 to take a five-question test. The penalty for each wrong answer is a $10 donation to DoSomething or a nonprofit of the test-takers choice.

Today is “Giving Tuesday,” the charitable sector’s answer to Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Approximately 2,200 organizations – both nonprofits and their for-profit supporters – are pushing Americans to kick-off the holiday season with a donation of cash or time. Much like store having promotions tied to their brands on Black Friday, it is up to each participating organization to determine how they’ll promote the event.

The event’s Twitter hashtag, #GivingTuesday, was already trending before the close of the business day on Monday. “We know this is going to be the first day of the giving season, and we’re excited to see what happens,” said Sol Adler, executive director of the 92nd Street Y (92Y) in New York City, where the idea for the day was hatched. “There are two days for spending (Black Friday and Cyber Monday), so the whole idea is, why not have a day of giving,” said Melanie Mathos of Charleston, S.C., software firm Blackbaud, one of the founding partners. “It’s a way to kick off the giving season, and the timing is great to raise awareness. It embodies the spirit of the holiday season and will bring greater awareness to nonprofits.”
Blackbaud will begin tracking giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving year-over-year, starting with this year compared to last year. Mathos said Blackbaud’s results should be ready tomorrow.

Though no one organization controls Giving Tuesday, a mass message of support from about 800,000 people will go out on Twitter via the Thunderclap platform at 2:30 p.m. (EST). Thunderclap allows for a large number of social media users to write a message and share it at the same time.

“One of the interesting things about Giving Tuesday is it’s an opportunity for experimenting,” said Henry Timms, 92Y’s deputy executive director of innovation, content and strategy. “Thunderclap is a chance for people to come together to share one message.” The 92Y experimented with Google Hangouts, and enlisted about 800 social media ambassadors to help spread the word between September and Giving Tuesday.

The 92Y is also driving donations and volunteering opportunities to itself, according to Adler. “We secured $150,000 worth of matching grants (for Giving Tuesday donations) from our board of directors and the general community,” he said. “We’re also doing a lot of opportunities for volunteering. We’ll have young kids doing greeting cards for soldiers and homebound elderly, and if you come down to the 92nd Street Y, a lot of it will be happening in front of you.”

No one is quite sure how Giving Tuesday will shake out, since this is the first event and there are a large number of variables. “This is the first year that a group of retailers and nonprofits and other folks in social media have pulled together to encourage the public to give,” said Anne Marie Borrego, director of media relations for the American Red Cross (ARC), another founding partner of Giving Tuesday. “We have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and now Giving Tuesday. It will shine a light on the importance of giving in the holiday season.”

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