Amid the consumer spending frenzy that marks the recent addition of Grey Thursday, the traditional Black Friday, and the internet dealing Cyber Monday, the world got a taste of a different kind of spending in the second annual Giving Tuesday. #GivingTuesday, developed by New York’s 92nd Street Y and widely communicated through its partnership with the United Nations Foundation, has aimed to cap off the annual holiday spending week with a day dedicated to giving. It is a seemingly selfless response to the boom of the shopping season, but it is yet to be determined if this philanthropic day of giving will ingrain itself into our culture. It’s too early to tell whether this #GivingTuesday is here to stay, but the sheer volume of social collaboration is elevating fundraising, and our perception of giving, to new ground.
At first, it may seem odd that a day for giving would associate itself with arguably the biggest commercial sales events of the year. However, ithe numbers that have come out so far seem to have demonstrated some brilliance in the move. Donations increased by 90% for 3,800 nonprofits compared to 2012. This is an incredible amount of growth going from the first to second year of the event. This success can be attributed to the intelligent marketing, social campaigning, but perhaps most importantly due to the 10,000 partners comprised of charities, volunteer nonprofits, corporations, community centers and foundations that skyrocketed Giving Tuesday into the public consciousness.
The partnerships gave rise to social media collaborations, boosted by the help of celebrities and influential people vouching for the GivingTuesday cause. And boy was the social media world buzzing. #GivingTuesday went viral across the Twitterverse, totaling 320,000 total tweets during the full 24 hours, and 35,000 tweets and Facebook posts sent during its peak hour around the noon. Additionally, the advent of the #UnSelfie quickly proliferated as part of #GivingTuesday, with people posting images that highlight the cause they are support on their social media accounts followed by the #Unselfie hashtag. Partnerships with companies such as Google facilitated the 12-hour Google Hang-Out-A-Thon, an online event available to anyone with an internet connection to watch a series of guest speakers hold discussions regarding world issues, their work in the nonprofit sector, and how they aim to become change agents. The power of social media flexed its might, and some incredible interactions began to take place, with over $19.2 million being donated, up from $10.1 million donated last year across charities. Yet we are left wondering if it’s enough, is Giving Tuesday here to stay?
Giving Tuesday brands itself as the kick off to the giving season, not just a one day event. It’s in this vein that the the creators of this event hope to break through America’s stubborn rate of giving, which has been stuck at two percent of the GDP for two generations now. Whether consumer spending has gotten lower or increased over time (currently increasing), it’s troubling that giving has become so stagnant in the world’s most charitable country. It’s obvious that capitalism has afforded the U.S. the ability to donate, but sometimes consumer spending and saving can’t be the only metrics to shape our world. Behind the lead of #GivingTuesday, we just might be witnessing the beginning of a transformative change that has us not only spending and saving for ourselves, but truly giving to advance our society and improve our world.