In many places around the world, late November marks the start of the holiday shopping season. On the Friday after American Thanksgiving, millions of people race to stores or open up their computers to hunt for the best deals. Shopping is fun, but it can fuel a culture of consumerism, materialism, and even greed. Giving Tuesday, which takes place the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, offers an alternative worldview based on doing good, giving back, and promoting radical generosity.
Giving Tuesday is a global movement committed to generosity, empathy, and solidarity. Every year, individuals, nonprofits, businesses, and others donate money to social causes, volunteer their time, and build community.
What is the purpose of Giving Tuesday?
Since launching in 2012, Giving Tuesday takes place on the first Tuesday after American Thanksgiving. It was established as a counterweight to the intense materialism and consumerism of the holiday shopping season. According to the GivingTuesday website, this Tuesday is all about “radical generosity.” Radical generosity is “the concept that the suffering of others should be as intolerable to us as our own suffering.” Instead of focusing on presents and hoarding resources for ourselves, GivingTuesday encourages millions of people to do good for others, whether that’s through donations, volunteering, or other forms of generosity.
Who created the concept of Giving Tuesday?
In many places around the world (such as the United States, Canada, Australia, Greece, France, and more), the Friday after Thanksgiving day is called “Black Friday.” Retailers hold special deals and promotions. For decades, Black Friday has been one of the busiest shopping days of the year. To keep business going, small businesses adopted “Small Business Saturday,” while online retailers got into the game with “Cyber Monday.”
The fixation on shopping, materialism, and commercialism has bothered many people. According to a piece from Vox, a cultural and community center in New York partnered with the United Nations Foundation in 2012 to create a day countering consumerism. After some discussion, the center’s director suggested Tuesday, saying that all the other days would be taken. The campaign launched online with the #GivingTuesday hashtag. It quickly went viral. In the years since, GivingTuesday has become an independent organization and a global movement.
Who gets involved in Giving Tuesday?
Anyone can participate in Giving Tuesday. It’s an especially popular day for individuals who want to support their favorite nonprofits and causes. Nonprofits participate by organizing campaigns, fundraisers, and other ways for people to donate. Schools, government agencies, grassroots communities, and corporations also embrace Giving Tuesday by raising awareness of causes and encouraging people to donate money or time. The GivingTuesday organization is a global movement, so countries, nonprofits, and individuals from all over the world participate.
What has Giving Tuesday achieved?
Giving Tuesday has become a global movement that inspires millions. According to the organization’s report from 2022, its network has a presence in over 80 countries and 300+ communities. That year, 9 new countries launched GivingTuesday movements while Africa and India established their own global hubs. The movement is deeply invested in change that goes deeper than just one Tuesday. The organization has The Starling Collective, which is a global fellowship of 50 grassroots activists, artists, organizers, and others working to change their communities, as well as a network for youth.
Giving Tuesday has encouraged record-breaking donations, even in challenging economic times. In 2022, the GivingTuesday organization reported $3.1 billion in 24 hours for causes in the United States. That number is impressive given the rise in inflation, which made it hard for many people to afford basic goods like groceries, rent, and gas. $3.1 billion also represents a 15% increase from 2021. GivingTuesday calculates donations using data sources like community foundations, PayPal, grantmakers, and so on. The day went well in other countries, too. The 2022 report revealed that GivingTuesday Mexico facilitated more than $14.5 million pesos in online donations, while Canada saw more than $50.5 million.
How can individuals participate in Giving Tuesday?
Giving Tuesday has a massive online presence, which is why it’s often stylized as #GivingTuesday. It’s one of the biggest victories for “hashtag activism,” which is a form of activism built on hashtags and social media engagement. Because Giving Tuesday has such a strong presence on the internet, most people participate by donating money online. This isn’t the only way you can get involved! Here are five other ideas:
#1. Donate goods
Lots of people donate goods instead of cash to various nonprofits, community groups, libraries, schools, shelters, food banks, and other institutions. Individuals can give gently used goods or buy new ones, depending on their budget and the needs of their chosen organization. Organizations typically have lists of items they need, but you can also call or email a representative to see what they’re accepting on Giving Tuesday.
#2. Support local businesses who are donating
Many businesses like to participate in Giving Tuesday by donating a portion of the sales for that day. As an individual, you can partner with donating businesses by shopping at their stores! If businesses can attract a lot of customers, they’re more likely to repeat their giving strategy the next year, which fosters a spirit of generosity within the community. Check social media pages to see which businesses are participating in Giving Tuesday.
#3. Attend a fundraising event
Nonprofits often hold fundraising events on Giving Tuesday. They may be online only, but some nonprofits hold in-person events like bake sales, silent auctions, dinners, workshops, concerts, and more. If you’re interested in attending an event, search for “Giving Tuesday events” or “Giving Tuesday fundraisers” in your area. You can also search the social media pages of your favorite nonprofits to see if they’re advertising anything.
#4. Volunteer your time
Nonprofits depend on donations, but volunteers are just as important. Individuals can volunteer in addition to donating or in place of. Because Tuesday is a work/school day, it may be more convenient to volunteer on the weekend. In fact, many nonprofits prefer people to volunteer on a different day since they can get overwhelmed with volunteers eager to sign up for Giving Tuesday. You can use that day to find an organization you want to connect with, and then volunteer later.
#5. Raise awareness
As a primarily online campaign, #GivingTuesday depends on word-of-mouth marketing. Write and share posts about what the day is, what radical generosity means, and how you plan to participate. You can talk to friends and family in person, as well. Giving Tuesday is about building community and solidarity, so you can raise awareness by organizing group activities and encouraging people you know to join.
What can nonprofits do for Giving Tuesday?
Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity for nonprofits to share their mission with potential donors and raise funds. For many organizations, it’s an essential time for last-minute pushes before the end of the calendar year. Here are five ways nonprofits can participate:
#1. Plan a campaign
Giving Tuesday can serve as an introduction to your organization, its values, and its mission. When planning a campaign, design clear and compelling marketing materials that draw in people who aren’t familiar with you already. Good campaigns also have clear goals. You should share with potential donors how much you’re hoping to raise, where the money will go, and what impact it will have. Transparency improves a nonprofit’s trustworthiness.
Using social media? Here are ten of the best social media tools for NGO workers.
#2. Offer matching gifts
Matching gifts are a great way to get the community involved in your campaign. What are matching gifts? They’re collaborations between nonprofits and corporate partners, big donors, or foundations. As an example, a wealthy donor can agree to match donations up to $10,000, so a $10,000 donation ends up turning into $20,000. Matching gifts are very motivating to donors, especially those who worry they can’t give enough money to make a difference.
#3. Partner with other nonprofits
Many nonprofits run on very tight budgets, so organizing a large-scale campaign is challenging. Joining forces with other nonprofits is a great way to address the lack of resources! You can partner with nonprofits that share your specific goals or that serve the same communities. Working together increases the reach of your campaign and builds solidarity.
#4. Engage existing donors and volunteers
Lots of donors and volunteers will be looking for something to do for Giving Tuesday. Nonprofits can leverage their email lists and ask for help with donations, raising awareness, volunteering, and other activities. Offer your network a variety of ways to participate and be sure to emphasize the impact they’ll have. When launching an email campaign, be sure to personalize the emails, highlight successful Giving Tuesdays from the past, and clearly define your goals.
#5. Follow up with participants
Once Giving Tuesday is over, nonprofits need to thank everyone who got involved. Feeling appreciated is essential to long-term generosity. Participants also want to know the impact of their actions, so nonprofits should track data on how much money was raised, what goods were donated, how many volunteers they had, and so on. Thank you cards and videos, social media shoutouts, certificates and awards, and celebration ceremonies are all good ways to show gratitude.