Giving As Good As We Get

Wednesday, January 7, 2015 - 11:26 am
Rachel Hutchisson

As my boss and Blackbaud CEO Mike Gianoni noted, “#GivingTuesday has gone from a simple idea to become a genuine global phenomenon.” The unofficial start to the end-of-year giving season once again kicked off this #GivingTuesday, December 2nd 2014, and with #UNselfies shared and charitable gifts made, giving is in full-swing.

Online giving in the U.S. on #GivingTuesday was up 36% for our nonprofit customers, compared to #GivingTuesday last year. For those who’ve followed the #GivingTuesday movement over the past three years, the success of last week’s international day of giving should come as no surprise. What began as a simple idea in 2012 has grown to be a purpose-driven global phenomenon, and Blackbaud is proud to be both a founding partner and a leading engine for charitable giving, measuring impact and providing resources to help nonprofits fulfill their missions.

This year, there were more than 20,000 partner organizations and 15,000 nonprofits in all 50 states and in more than 40 countries around the world who joined together to kick-off the first day of the giving season. On the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday aims to widen who is participating in the world of giving while serving as an anecdote to the consumer frenzy of the holiday season.

According to Blackbaud, online transaction volume grew 50% compared to 2013 and there was a 15% increase in the number of organizations that processed an online donation. This growth, coupled with the 11% decline in Black Friday sales, continues to show the widening reach of the #GivingTuesday movement and people’s willingness to give back. But it isn’t about just one day of giving. It’s about moving the needle forward in philanthropy year-round and educating the public that good is for everyone.

Just as we saw with the social phenomenon that was this summer’s #IceBucketChallenge, incredible things can happen when people advocate on behalf of the causes they support—good can, quite literally, go viral—and that’s one of the goals of the #GivingTuesday movement. Through social media campaigns, the #GivingTuesday team and partnering organizations work to raise awareness about the crucial role each of us plays in fostering change and advancing good.

Take the #UNseflie trend, for example. An #UNselfie, the opposite of a #selfie, is a show of support for #GivingTuesday. Rather than taking a photo of yourself, you take a photo that focuses on the organization or cause you support. Last year, there were more than 7,000 #UNselfies shared across social media. This year, Blackbaud teamed up with NASDAQ to take over Times Square with #UNselfies. At the beginning and end of the day, employees’ #UNselfies were displayed on the NASDAQ tower to shine light on worthy causes and create a ripple effect in giving. The more people we could showcase making commitments to give back and do good, the more likely, we felt, it would be for others to follow suit.

But the social component of the day is just a piece of this movement. We know that in order to truly grow impact, there must be a shift in the way we view philanthropy as a whole. It is each of our responsibilities to take part in the community—locally and globally—and it isn’t always about writing a check. Being a part of the giving movement is about taking ownership and recognizing that change does not happen without activation. It’s giving your time, donating your talents, lending a hand, or speaking out.

Too often, philanthropy is viewed in a vacuum, separate from our everyday responsibilities as if nonprofits alone are charged with fostering change. #GivingTuesday challenges this mindset and the way we think about philanthropy as a whole. It can’t be up to nonprofits alone. It’s up to all of us—individuals, foundations, businesses, brands, and communities big and small—to disrupt the status quo. When Henry Timms dreamt up the idea that would become #GivingTuesday it was because he saw an opportunity to create a groundswell of support around doing good. Thanks to the technology and social platforms we have at our fingertips, we’re empowered to push the needle like never before. #GivingTuesday is our megaphone for good, and it’s for everyone.

Rachel Hutchisson works in Corporate Citizenship & Philanthropy at Blackbaud, Inc., and serves on the board of the Coastal Community Foundation. 

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