Giving Tuesday hopes to spark a movement of people and organizations who want to celebrate giving and encourage more and smarter giving during the holiday season. The intent is to create an annual national day of giving on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving or this year on November 27, 2012. The campaign will encourage philanthropic activities that support nonprofit organizations.
The idea is to harnesses the collective power of the social good sector ecosystem which includes charities, families, businesses and individuals. It is intended to inspire actions like contributing to charities, educating one’s children about giving, volunteering for a nonprofit, or to encourage people in their networks to do the same. This campaign provides resources, a theme, and asking all who participate to unleash their creativity to spread generosity.
But collective action isn’t enough unless there is collective impact. How does one measure that? What are the transaction and transformation metrics? The first is easy – dollars raised, # of volunteers, etc. Can the event help increase the average amount that American’s give to charity? More difficult to measure is the transformation of how people think about, talk about and participate in the giving season. What is the definition of success? Maybe one is that Giving Tuesday becomes an official national holiday or becomes an annual event like Cyber Monday.
Giving Days are not a new idea and have been successful in local communities and entire states, like GiveMN which raised $2 million in 24 hours using the Razoo platform. Razoo has promoted local giving days, including Twive and Receive and recently announced reaching a milestone of raising $100 million.
The concept of empowering individuals to fundraise for a charity by asking their friends to donate has been around for years offline. Think about all those marathons or walking events for social causes that have been around before Facebook. But the idea of doing this through your online social networks has become normalized in the last few years as online social networks have become intertwined with our lives. Encouraging nonprofits to embrace this mode of fundraising was the point of the Case Foundation’s America’s Giving Challenge, one of the first giving contests launched back in 2007 where I was a first place winner raising funds for Cambodian children.
This is when I first observed the rise of “Free Agents,” highly connected individuals who could launch social movements in the palms of their hands by mixing their skills with online networking and their passion for social change. These individuals undertook organizing, fundraising, and advocacy – activities that were once only in the control of nonprofits – outside the “control” of nonprofits. Free Agents still find creative ways to make a difference today. For example, Mark Horvath has put together a cookbook, filled with recipes from social media leaders, that is being sold on iTunes and is generating funding to help provide programs to homeless.
Slowly but surely, nonprofits have also embraced the practice of “social fundraising,” the marriage of fundraising and social media. One of the leaders is charity:water which has been using this practice over the past 6 years to raise millions for clean water. Their approach empowers everyday individuals to use their creativity to raise money from their networks. My annual charity:water September Campaign celebrates my anniversary, but it is part of a larger movement of people who care about providing clean water for the world.
Giving Tuesday is also promoting many of the ideas in Giving 2.0 by Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen. The book’s message is simple. Anyone and everyone who gives anything — time, money, experience, skills, networks — in any amount to create a better world can be philanthropist. In my own work, raising money for Cambodia children, I passionately believe this to be true. Don’t ever think that you, as individual, have to top the Forbes 400 list – like my modest charity:water campaign, small actions add up to collective impact.
Giving Tuesday takes a lot of these ideas and blends them together. It has assembled a team of recognized experts and influencers, initially convened by leaders of 92nd Street Y and supported by a core group of founding partners. Founding partners include United Nations Foundation, DonorsChoose.org, Mashable, Blackbaud, charity: water, GlobalGiving, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA), Kiva, Darden Restaurant Group, Groupon, Unilever and VENTURE3Capital. Leaders in philanthropy, social media, innovative giving, grassroots organizing, marketing and communications are providing counsel and resources to help build this movement.
We now live in a network-centric world where our connectedness through social media and social networks can spread hate as well as love faster than ever before. I’m interested in initiatives that inspire people and organizations to promote, model, and spread generosity throughout their networks and together make a collective impact. And that’s why I’m supporting Giving Tuesday. What about you?