On Tuesday,Dec.3rd, the GivingTuesday logo was blazing in neon on Times Square. The hashtag, #GivingTuesday, was trending on Twitter. As some nonprofit insiders complained, #GivingTuesday is making too much noise. And indeed it did:
- The #GivingTuesday hashtag was used 269,000 times in the 24 hour December 3 period, (as well as 406,000 times in the last 7 days, and 514,000 times in the last 30 days). That’s an average of 11,208 tweets per hour, 186 times per minute.
- #GivingTuesday trended for over 10 hours straight in the United States (9:30 am – 7:30 pm)
- Using statistics only from highest-level influencers, #GivingTuesday had a reach to over 425 million individuals on Twitter, and over 300 million on Facebook.
- People worldwide unified around the idea of the #UNselfie, or an unselfish selfie. Over 7,000 #UNselfies were submitted on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Google +.
- Online, nearly 3,500 Social Media Ambassadors have pledged to support #GivingTuesday.
- Multiple articles have been posted on The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The Guardian.
But was all this “noise” a bad thing for giving as some nonprofit observers feared? Did the awareness raising and engagement around the importance of giving to charity push the needle on charitable giving? Were there robust results? Did it light up generosity?
I prefer to not to call it “noise” but “social proof,” as defined by wikipedia as “a psychological phenomenon where people assume the actions of others reflect correct behavior for a given situation.” Social proof is the positive influence created when people find out others are doing something – now, suddenly, everyone else wants to do that something too. Social proof is the secret sauce for campaigns that integrate social media and networks – and essential for any campaign that has a goal of changing behavior -like #GivingTuesday’s goal of creating a culture of giving.
The complaint about “noise” is common to local giving days, especially from the nonprofit insiders. For example, GiveMN.org, a statewide giving day for five years, has also heard complaints about noise. Did it stop the Giving Day? No, their executive director, Dana Nelson, views it as an indicator of success. It is important for them to understand if the noise complaint is vocal minority or widespread. So they do a public survey post event asking people if they felt they received too many solicitations from nonprofits, just the right amount, or too little. In their most recent survey, 10% said too much.
Dana also mentioned that when she hears the complaint of too much giving day noise, she challenges them to share the giving day with people who have not heard about it or participated. The idea here is less on the ask to give, but to encourage others who not already giving to give.
But did #GivingTuesday show results?
According to research from Blackbaud and reported by Steve MacLaughlin on the NpEngage blog, “Online giving on #GivingTuesday 2013 was up 90% compared to 2012. Blackbaud processed more than $19.2 million in online donations on #GivingTuesday 2013. This was up from the $10.1 million processed on #GivingTuesday in 2012. The average online gift on #GivingTuesday 2013 was $142.05, which was significantly up from $101.60 in 2012. That’s a 40% year-over-year increase in average gift size. The transaction volume increased 36% compared to last year and large giving amounts helped the overall growth of #GivingTuesday.”
Tom Watson interviewed Steve MacLaughlin to take a deeper look at these numbers in his Forbes Column. The hopes and vision for #GivingTuesday is that it would spark a movement that creates a national. maybe global culture giving, highlighting charitable giving and encouraging those who do not give to nonprofits to open their hearts, minds, and wallets. As McLaughlin notes in the interview, he sees #GivingTuesday 2013 as the beginning of such a movement, not a one-time fad. He acknowledges that it will not happen overnight, perhaps taking as long as five years. (I agree)
The interview also discusses a concerned that has been raised by nonprofits that #GivingTuesday will just increase giving on a “over hyped” day of giving and not increase giving overall. MacLaughlin suggests this just a scarcity fear that doesn’t show up in the research data that Blackbaud collects. McLaughlin went on to say that giving will increase if nonprofits are able to engage with donors in a bigger and broader ways – to embrace a systems approach. MacLaughlin also offers advice to nonprofits that did well with #GivingTuesday this year: leverage your relationships with those donors year-round. For those that did not do well this year, MacLaughlin encourages these nonprofits to learn from their results and improve their strategies over the next year.
That’s another valuable aspect of GivingTuesdayis the sharing of best practices to get better results and continuous improvement. My experience as a fundraising champion for NTEN was positive. I made my goal and had fun!
I’m very optimistic about the benefits of GivingTuesday and it building a movement. Are you?
Update: After I published this piece, I got the following information from PayPal about its donations processed on GivingTuesday
Giving via PayPal on #GivingTuesday 2013 resulted in:
- an 123.8% increase in total U.S. payment volume for charitable donations compared to #GivingTuesday 2012
- the top five ranked U.S. cities that donated the most money on #GivingTuesday 2013 via PayPal mobile donations were: New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles and Houston
- On #GivingTuesday 2013, the single largest mobile donation via PayPal was $5,000!