Welcome to Giving Tuesday, the global day for charitable acts. It’s the antidote to Black Friday and Cyber Monday madness. While all three made-up holidays hinge on the same post-Thanksgiving schedule, this one is about helping the less fortunate, not just bargain shopping for yourself or others. (As this official promo video puts it, “After you get . . . And get . . . You get a chance to give, any way you want.”)
Since its invention in 2012, the celebration has marked the unofficial start of charities’ end-of-year donation drives. This year, however, 92Y, the group that helped conceive and popularize the event alongside the United Nations Foundation, is offering up an additional selling point: a little post-presidential election catharsis. “No matter who you voted for, it’s kind of indisputable that we feel pretty divided right now, and feel like we are at the end of what was a pretty ugly process,” says Asha Curran, Chief Innovation Officer and Director of the Belfer Center of Innovation and Social Impact at 92Y.
So maybe it’s time to re-invest in our own humanity. “Giving Tuesday is a day where it feels like people are coming together collectively, as part of a human and global community,” Curran adds. “These organizations help make up healthy communities, and healthy communities make up a strong democracy. I think voting is a really important measure for how actively engaged a community is, but giving is also a really important measure.” When done collectively, it can fund societal change.
To that end, 92Y has provided a search tool that helps would-be donors find causes that they can become passionate about within their local communities. There’s also a map of specific places that have launched their own civic-minded campaigns, and assortment of global community causes.
Givers can also find programs offering ways to compound how far their money goes. DonorsChoose is working with the Gates Foundation to give away additional funds through gift cards. Each time a person makes a contribution to a classroom, both they and the teacher they’ve supported are entered in a lottery to win more funds from the Foundation. Gates is also giving away a half million to groups who secure donations via Facebook.
Rebuilding strong communities isn’t all about fundraising either. Baltimore-based Thread has signed up over 1,000 people to join in random–but also very strategic–acts of kindness throughout the city. The Family Dinner Project has designed a #GiveandTalk campaign to help families discuss and share their own plans for becoming more deliberate about acting charitably.
Five years ago, the inaugural Giving Tuesday campaign brought in about $10 million, roughly 50% more than what was donated during the same period one year earlier. Last year, 92Y recorded nearly $117 million from 699,000 digital transactions. That was driven, in part, by the bandwagon effect of 1.3 million mentions via hashtags like #GivingTuesday on social media. But Curran estimates that the exact figure is far higher. The majority of givers still donate offline.
Just remember: Humble-bragging isn’t just expected, it’s encouraged. “If you care enough to give, you should care enough to share,” Curran says. “We are being reminded of the power of social media every day. Let’s use that power to promote generosity.” Don’t forget to post your #UNselfie.