Giving Tuesday a reminder of the importance of philanthropy

Giving Tuesday allows nonprofit organizations to achieve greater fundraising results.
Date Published
12/03/2013

During the Thanksgiving holiday, most of the media attention is given to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, but the nonprofit sector is trying to make a name for itself with Giving Tuesday. The nationwide event is in its second iteration and nonprofit organizations are looking to take advantage of greater notoriety of the fundraising focused affair.

How it began
In fact, The Chronicle of Philanthropy indicated there are more than 8,300 entities involved in this year’s Giving Tuesday, with greater participation from larger corporations, such as Wal-Mart, and nonprofit heavyweights like the United Way. The establishment of the event began with Henry Timms, who founded the New York-based nonprofit group 92nd Street Y, and the United Nations Foundation. Timms looked at the successes of the commerce-centric events, like Black Friday, and decided to develop a day that was focused solely on charitable contributions.

The NonProfit Times stated last year’s goal for participation was fairly modest – 100 partners. However, there were 2,500 organizations that joined in, and this year the goal was set for 5,000 collaborators. Beverly Greenfield, director of public relations for the 92nd Street Y, told The Times this goal had been surpassed a week before the event was slated to take place. Greenfield went on to say the event is a symbol of what organizations can accomplish through grassroots efforts and social media, which is why many advertisements for the event include a hashtag.

What role social media plays
Those involved with Giving Tuesday are quick to point out that no single organization has proprietary rights over the occasion, and all partners have an equal share in making it as successful as possible. That means nonprofit groups should make a concerted effort to take advantage of their social media channels to reach out to donors. Software for nonprofits can help organizations enable their donors to be advocates for their particular campaign or cause. Instead of having total control over all social media and online fundraising, nonprofit groups can improve their fundraising results by allowing donors to create personal sites that they can use to educate and inform their family, friends and professional associates.

What’s more, this tool brings in interest from these external parties that may be difficult or impossible for organizations to otherwise contact. The Times highlighted the example of United Way Worldwide, which conservatively used Twitter to grow momentum for Giving Tuesday before the inaugural event. This year, the nonprofit group developed a stronger social media strategy to get the word out about the day for charitable giving.

Spurring interest
Meanwhile, nonprofit groups have the opportunity to take advantage of matching challenges. In fact, the Case Foundation used donation matching last year to reach a goal of $25,000. After witnessing the success of the previous year, the organization aims to reach $100,000. The foundation told The Times its using a sense of urgency to give donors incentive to contribute.

In the spirit of philanthropic competition, The Chronicle of Philanthropy said charities and local businesses in Baltimore are working together to maintain their title as the most generous city in the U.S. During last year’s Giving Tuesday, The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore raised $1 million in online donations, which is more than all other nonprofit groups in America.

This year, the city hopes to raise $5 million and began the effort by holding a “food-truck rally,” during which individuals were able to taste food from a variety of purveyors. At the same time, the people sampling food pledged to donate during Giving Tuesday. With multiple community members, businesses and nonprofit groups working together to support this initiative, Baltimore is working hard to retain its honorary title.

Many organizations recognize that Giving Tuesday represents an opportunity to remind people that philanthropy is an essential component in holding communities together.

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