Business

#GivingTuesday’s Growing Reputation Leads to Surge in Donations

The noncommercial alternative to Black Friday involved a much larger number of charitable nonprofits this year, and the results suggest that the social-media-driven event might be the future of donation drives.

The noncommercial alternative to Black Friday involved a much larger number of charitable nonprofits this year, and the results suggest that the social-media-driven event might point to the future of donation drives.

Charitable giving never really went out of style, but with the help of some counter-programming, it’s having a bit of a moment.

The second annual #GivingTuesday, held earlier this week, led to a surge in donations for nonprofits that took part. The success of the campaign, created in reaction to shopping-themed Black Friday and Cyber Monday, suggests the idea has legs.

A day for giving: The event, held on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving, was launched by New York City’s 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation last year. The aim: to connect potential donors with charities. That first #GivingTuesday was more grassroots in nature, but the event spurred donations for the charities involved and even helped some build fundraising momentum for the entire year. Following that success, the 2013 event had more participants—and more centralized organization.

A surge in growth: With more than 10,000 charities taking part this year—a huge jump from the 2,600 in 2012—many reported record numbers of people donating to their causes in a single day. The Los Angeles Times reports that a charity affiliated with the United Methodist Church, the General Board of Global Ministries, pulled in $6.5 million on Tuesday, more than 10 times the nonprofit’s previous one-day record. According to Blackbaud, a charitable nonprofit software provider and a partner in #GivingTuesday, donation levels were 90 percent higher than the previous year, with $19.2 million going through the company’s donation systems. Other donation processing companies, including DonorPerfect and Network for Good, reported similarly positive results.

Assessing long-term potential: The one-day event could signal a big turning point for nonprofits, one industry analyst says. In an interview with Forbes contributor Tom Watson, Blackbaud Idea Lab Director Steve MacLaughlin said the current trends suggest more potential in the coming years. “I believe that #GivingTuesday is at the beginning of the beginning of a movement,” he said. “The 90 percent increase in online giving that Blackbaud saw compared to last year certainly suggest[s] this wasn’t a one-time fad. I suspect that five years from now [we’ll] really know if this has become a part of the U.S. or even global movement towards philanthropic giving.”

While conceding some weaknesses in the model—that it favors social-savvy nonprofits over older groups, for example—MacLaughlin says that, with donors choosing to contribute to fewer organizations, focused days could help change the model for the better in the long run. “The nonprofit sector needs to embrace bigger and broader ways to engage with existing and potential donors,” he told Watson. “This is why #GivingTuesday has the potential to be such an important movement.”

(iStock/Thinkstock)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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