#GivingTuesday aims to create culture of seasonal giving

Jill Warren Lucas

So you made it through Black Friday and are enduing Cyber Monday. Before you burn through your entire holiday budget, give consideration to #GivingTuesday.

The new initiative uses crowdsourcing to harness the collective power of partners – charities, families, businesses and individuals – to create a new model of seasonal giving.

“From the beginning, we saw #GivingTuesday as a movement that would be owned by the community – by everyone who participates in it,” said Sol Adler, executive director at 92nd Street Y in New York City, which has played a key role in launching the initiative.

“When we started, our goal was 100 partners – now, #GivingTuesday has more than 2,100 partners in all 50 states. It really has become a movement, taking on a life of its own, and giving voice to the generosity of Americans. It’s well on its way to become a national day on the calendar that signals the opening of the giving season.”

Diana Graham of Raleigh, president of Bonnie’s Book Foundation, just learned about the initiative last week and promptly signed on. Playing on the event’s date, the foundation is asking donors to consider a gift of $11.27 to support the mission of putting books in the hands of children who may not own books at home.

“We have such a major focus on shopping and acquisition at this time of year,” Graham said. “I hope #GivingTuesday will provide a ‘time out’ from that focus, and perhaps encourage people to set aside some of their shopping budget to benefit nonprofits and projects that fill unmet community needs.”

Adler sees it the same way. “92nd Street Y has been in the business of building community for almost 140 years, and ‘giving back’ has always been central to what we do,” he said. “Now, in this digitally connected world, we are committed to engaging not only our own local community in giving back during the holiday season, but to tapping into the generosity of Americans all around the country.”

The collective nature of the project is powered by several big-name nonprofits and corporate sponsors, but #GivingTuesday’s noise will help to direct givers to smaller agencies that typically don’t generate as much attention.

“I can’t believe it hadn’t been initiated earlier than this,” said HandMade in America‘s Helene Herbert, who compared it to American Express’s Small Business Saturday campaign. “The national attention this campaign is receiving is necessary to make this movement effective.”

Herbert said the event’s timing coincided with the Asheville-based HandMade’s annual fund campaign, making it an especially good fit.  “Our region only stands to benefit from this focus on charitable giving,” she said. “Whether that contribution directly goes to HandMade or to another local nonprofit, in the end it improves and strengthens the community we all live and work in.”

Robin Boettcher of Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation, also in Asheville, said #GivingTuesday similarly meshed with its year-end giving campaign.  She is actively promoting the initiative through social media and emails to supporters.

“We’re delighted to participate in #GivingTuesday because it focuses on what really matters – helping those in need,” Boettcher said. “For children with brain tumors, that’s the biggest gift of all.”

Helping those with medical issues also is the motivation for the Autism Society of North Carolina.  “By participating in this campaign we are making the community aware of the support families affected by autism need,” said Kristy B. White, development director for the Raleigh-based nonprofit. “We are also letting more families know that we are here to provide opportunities for their loved ones with autism.”

Tommy Hudnall brought the initiative to the attention Charlotte Pride Band.  While the organization will be grateful for direct donations, Hudnall said #GivingTuesday aligns with its collaborative model of providing benefits to the larger community.

“If you have any money left after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you can give to a cause that really means something to someone,” he said. “They might appreciate it more than a new blender.”

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